Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hope For The Future Of The Church: An Observational Piece on the Current Generation of Christians

I recently have been thinking a lot about my generation and how we as twenty something young people are probably some of the most in your face, open about our opinions, generation the world has ever seen. We are also as a whole, the most tech savvy, Internet literate group to ever populate America and planet earth as a whole. Taking all of these factors into consideration, I have been thinking about how they play into specifically my friends and the common denominator that many of us share: our Christianity.

You see, we as a whole are a product of coming of age in an era of church history that will now be known as “The Seeker Movement” that dominated most big churches around America for about ten years between 1996-2006 approximately. This movement was for all intensive purposes in my view and the view of many of my friends, an all out disaster. Instead of developing disciples like the Church was meant to do as taught by Paul in many of the New Testament Epistles, the American Church at the time put the highest priority on getting people ‘Saved’ and very little priority on anything beyond that. Therefore, many, many people my age simply ‘prayed a prayer’ and then went on living their life no different than they had before.

However, there was a small remnant of us who, began reading the Scriptures on our own, as well as other solid Christian authors, and understood that Christianity was about a whole lot more than just ‘praying a sinners prayer.’ In fact, a ‘sinner’s prayer’ isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the Bible!!! That small remnant is now, in my view, helping to shape the next generation of Christians, and we are all in, committed to following Christ and loving His Church as best we can, considering we are still imperfect people.

I think it would be fun to do a documentary on us, and the way in which we are living out our lives as Christ followers in a generation that in many ways in more crooked and twisted than ever before. We tend to be more comfortable talking about what we believe and why, and aren’t as intimated by people who disagree with us. We enjoy keeping an open dialog with those who are not Christians and also feel comfortable going to bars, having a beer and reassuring people that alcohol is not a sin in moderation.

We also have begun taking the concept of living in community with other Believers as a great idea and therefore the practice of four or five guys or four or five gals living under one roof, splitting rent, utility, internet, and food costs into affordable payments for each involved is becoming more and more common. This also is helping the fact that we graduating college at a time when we as a nation are still recovering from one of the worst recessions in recent history. Jobs are kinda sparse, so we are unable to financially afford to live out on our own like our parents generation often was able to after college.

What others might seen as a major problem, my generation has seen therefore as an opportunity; an opportunity to live together with other Godly men if you are a guy, and Godly women if you are girl. All throughout the New Testament, from Acts, to Ephesians to Hebrews we as Christians are told of the importance of two things: community and unity within the body. My friends and I have taken this to heart, and are seeking to learn how to live alongside one another despite differences in sleep schedules, tastes in movies and music, as well as being introverted or extraverted.

Unity though is my next point. My generation is looking at different church denominations that have been in existence and caused many a worship and doctrine war for centuries, and begun asking: ‘hey, you love Jesus right? I do too. Can’t we just focus on that common bond and yes, friendly debate one another, but ultimately stay friends despite those differences in whether you believe in speaking in tongues or are Pre-millennial or A-millennial?”  In Cleveland, OH we actually had several churches partner for bi-monthly worship and prayer nights for a while called “Unite: Cleveland” where city and suburban area churches from varying denominations got together to pray collectively for Cleveland and the people in it.

Conversations and discussions about how to better serve as witnesses of the Gospel of Christ, serve other people period, and general story telling sessions are often the main discussion topics at various Bible Study groups, coffee shop meetings, wing and beer sports bar hangouts, and post church Sunday night Applebee runs. The topic of conversation can turn instantly from serious heart issues to the viewing of a funny YouTube clip in a heartbeat, and we are okay with that. Using humor to lighten the mood is a common anecdote to otherwise hard times in the lives of friends.

As I said earlier, we are comfortable with people disagreeing with us. This is especially true when it comes to sharing our faith with non-Christians, where we tend to take the approach of never denying we are Christians, but not ever forcing what we believe onto anyone. We simply state that we love Jesus and do our best to live up to the teachings of the Bible, while being the first to humbly admit that we fail to so often. We allow non-Christians to feel we are approachable and welcome discussion and questions from them, while remembering that we can’t expect them to think like we do, without the help of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we aren’t offended if they tell us that they think the Bible is completely untrue and that they doubt the very existence of God. The fact that they enjoy talking and feel safe talking to us is enough to keep us happy to share our views on matters in society and everyday life.

Ultimately, we want our parents generation to know there is hope for the future of the Church in America. A great majority of our generation has completely turned their back on the Church, and we realize this every day from simply living and going to work in our society today among our peers. While many have chosen to compromise and assimilate a good majority of what the culture teaches while still claiming to be Christians, we are choosing to stand firm and ‘fight the good fight of the Faith” and the Apostle Paul told his young prodigy Timothy two thousand years ago. Yes battles are coming, but we are going to stand united in our love and faith in Christ, knowing that divided it would be impossible to stand.

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