Church is not a classroom where subjects are cut and dried, black and white, and true or not true. Everybody's living a life that contains ambiguity and complexity. My task is to enter that world, find a language, and preserve the ambiguity without giving up the truth. -Eugene Peterson, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011
If superficiality is the curse of the modern age, what's the curse of the postmodern age? Distraction. People today are distracted and cannot focus. With the Internet and entertainment, so many different ways to keep people's minds constantly shifting, they don't have to think. And, of course, churches sometimes play right into that-with fast paced services that keep people jumping all over the place. That's why solitude and silence are among the most important spiritual disciplines for today.
What other spiritual challenges are unique to our age? We have taught a gospel for some decades now that has cut people off from a life of holiness and discipleship with Jesus. We have preached, "Assent to certain truths and you'll get into heaven when you die." the main focus has been getting into heaven. The gospel of Jesus-"repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"-is about entering into a life with Jesus now. And that includes heaven, of course, when we die. But life formation beings right now.
William Penn said, "Religion doesn't take us out of the world. But it pushes us into the world and excites our endeavors to mend the world."
-Richard Foster Q & A, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011
Christian bubble...the subculture Christians create that allows us to conduct our entire life having minimal contact with anything "secular"...Taking a missionary posture with our church plant, we began employing strategies to build relationships with non-Christians. We hung out in coffee shops, invited people to our house, and talked to our neighbors. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a challenge. We had spent our entire lives doing Christian things with Christian people, and engaging people who did not share our faith. This felt as awkward as a first date....The bubble is comfortable. There are unwritten rules about how to be nice to each other, what you can say and what you can't, and the correct answers to life's difficult questions...not a short-term missionary on a day trip out of the bubble...an ambassador of Christ to this outpost of God's kingdom. -Trevor Lee, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011
Sadly, as our culture's capacity to engage and maintain meaningful relationships has deteriorated, we have seen a rise in celebrity-based rather than proximity-based authority. And the same trend is evident within the church. Just because someone has a large ministry or has sold millions of books doesn't mean we should automatically grant him authority over our life, faith, or congregation. As many entertainers, politicians, and church leaders have proven, it is possible to build a large platform and yet lack the character, intelligence, and competency to faithfully wield it. - Skye Jethani, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011
For Millennials, just attending church does not equal faithfulness. The only way they'll attend is if they see the church as being a meaningful part of their lives...Most Millennials...prefer heterogeneous groups. Perhaps this is being driven by the diversification of our culture. For example, preschools are projected to become minority white in 2021. Diversity is normative for Millennials, and they will gravitate toward churches that look like their diverse schools and workplaces.
Appeals to positional authority don't carry weight with younger people. They want pastors, elders, and leaders who equip them without constantly reminding them of who is in charge. For Millennials, authority doesn't exist to prop up leaders. Rather, the leader must assume the responsibility to enhance the lives of followers. The debt of authority is the responsibility to sacrifice for followers.
Millennials refuse to sit on the sidelines. They want to be part of the action, or they'll be gone. A church without opportunities for the next generation is boring at best and disobedient at worst. Contrary to the stereotype, most Millennials are not scared off by hard work. In fact, one of the best ways to keep them engaged is communicate a large vision, worthy of their devotion, and set high expectations.
This next generation desires to be led. They are willing to follow if given a change to make a difference. Unify them with other generations. And them them meaningful opportunities to participate in God's work in the world. -Sam S. Rainer, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011