Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Leaving the Entertainment Church for the Revitalized Presence-Driven Church

Heidi Baker at Redeemer
The exodus has begun. Millennials (today's pre- and post-adolescents) are leaving the "relevant, entertainment coffee bar church." Entertainment can take a person's soul only so far, which is not very far at all. What is needed in these days are more churches that emphasize The Distinctives

One important voice in American Christianity echoing my sentiments is Rachel Held Evans. In a recent interview Evans is asked why The Church of Cosmetic-Better Music Sleeker Logos More Relevant Programming Etc. is ineffective. She replies:

"These aren’t inherently bad strategies and some churches would be wise to employ them. But many church leaders make the mistake of thinking millennials are shallow consumers who are leaving church because they aren’t being entertained. I think our reasons for leaving church are more complicated, more related to social changes and deep questions of faith than worship style or image.
If you try to woo us back with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely-tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something.  We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity. Like every generation before and after, we’re looking for Jesus—the same Jesus who can be found in the places he’s always been: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these. No fog machines required."
Wow. If a fog machine isn't the answer what could possibly do the job? Evans says...
  • Sharing communion
  • Baptizing sinners
  • Preaching the Word
  • Anointing the sick
  • Practicing confession
  • "You know, the stuff the church has been doing for the last 2,000 years. We need to creatively re-articulate the significance of the traditional teachings and sacraments of the church in a modern context. That’s what I see happening in churches, big and small, that are making multigenerational disciples of Jesus."
Yes! Real Church needs to do the stuff Jesus did. This is our distinctive. This is the answer. 

At the top of the Real Church to-do list is: anointing of the sick. Evans says this sacrament is critical for the church today.

Evans believes the "American church" needs "a little death and resurrection." Discipleship is not something we can or should measure in numbers. "A church might produce a thousand attendees without producing any disciples." "As the religious landscape in the U.S. changes, Christians are going to have to learn to measure our success by something other than money and power."

(We're praying for the sick and preaching about the power of the Holy Spirit this Sunday. Anyone looking for this is invited to join us.)