Mick’s Memo – What’s the Faith of a Generation Worth?
At our last Leadership X-change meeting Sunday afternoon we pondered the question, “What is a generation worth?” We looked into the statistics researchers have gathered about the religious views and concepts of truth held by Americans in general and especially among the millennial and younger generation. Reliable surveys now indicate that roughly 25% of Americans put “none” as their choice on religious affiliation surveys. This number is up 7% from 2010-2017 when the data was taken and likely higher now. Millennials make up 44% of the “nones”.[i]
The culture has, for a while been characterized as “post-modern”, the world view described by Brittanica.com as, “a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason”. In other words, it questions all previous truth claims and does not accept the premise that truth is anything more than opinion. Additionally, we are now a “post-Christian” culture (more like Europe), where some nominal residue of Christian history and culture remain, but without knowing or believing the truths behind them.
What can we do about this? Isolation is an abdication of our responsibility to the purpose of the church. We are commissioned to “bear witness” (Acts 1:8) and “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20) among all people regardless of their origins, nationalities, ages or beliefs. Following the current strategies of evangelizing and discipling the “nones”, strategies that are being revealed as decreasingly effective, seems almost as unresponsive to our commission as isolation. The alternative is to be willing to honestly assess our effectiveness and be willing to strategize and initiate changes that will enable us to engage the emerging generation and give them an opportunity to make an informed choice about whether or not they will believe in Jesus.
What might it cost to reach this generation? We have already paid some of the cost. Those among the older generations who attend here at CCC intentionally founded our fellowship based on contemporary stylistic changes to our services. We have invested significantly in upgrading and expanding our facilities. These will fit better with other public meeting places in our region and provide flexibility for even more options of worship “venues”. We try to communicate so that visitors can understand our message without having a traditional church vocabulary. We invest in local families through the tuition free after school program and by helping local families with meals at Thanksgiving.
But there will be more cost. It will involve time—relational time. The truths we believe as absolute and grounded in God will need to be demonstrated incarnationally by loving service as individuals and as a community of faith. We will need to face the discomfort and invest time in dialogue with people who hold diverse views of politics, morality, and faith. We will need to spend time growing our understanding of our own faith so that we can enter that dialogue with grace and confidences as the Apostle Peter says in this familiar challenge… “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
None of this involves compromising the truth or essential doctrines of the faith. It does mean assessing and adjusting things that are personal preference, habitual, or comfortable for me.
I have been challenged and blessed by the first 2 sessions and I want to encourage you to check out the next Leadership Xchange session March 31st at 4PM in the Community center. If you are engaged in ministry of any kind here, I ask you to participate as we assess and develop a unified strategy for our ministry strategies. If you are not yet serving or leading, you are welcome to participate also.
This Sunday the 2nd service will conclude with the observance of baptism for 4 adults. If you can be there to encourage and support them in this step of obedience to the Lord, I know it will be a great blessing!
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday as we continue our series “What is God Really Like?”,
[i] Going Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley, Zondervan 2017