By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of the CYF Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary
Terri Elton and I are attending a conference right now at Group Publishing about the future of the Church. The speakers are giving us lots of insight into what the great decline in church attendance and membership looks like across the spectrum of Christianity and across our country. There were scholars who have said for years, that American Christianity will never go the way of Europe. These scholars are saying quite the opposite.
While all the data is interesting (especially to info nerds like Elton and me) I was more struck by the reporting out of an interview that Thom Schultz of Group did with a ministry leader named Mike Breen, who asserts that the three reasons the institutional church is dying in America are: Celebrity, Consumerism, and Competition.
Now we who serve in denominational settings might say, “Hmmm, that’s all mega/non-denom stuff, we’re not into that kind of Christianity. In fact we’ve refused to go there. “
My question is: Is it possible to not to? If the Celebrity, Consumerism and Competitive church is the church water we swim in, we are either playing in, or dipping a toe in, or in Amish-like reaction to culture. Any way you look at it, your church is still caught up in it.
What if your ministry with Children Youth and Families began to name these three illness in the American church, and consciously work against them in the ways you do ministry? Could you start with competition? What does it mean to quit competing with and start working with the church in your area that might be your greatest competition. Not a once a year worship service. Not attending meetings with them. What about a real relationship where you are in relationship with, praying for and rooting for and supporting their ministry for the sake of young people in your community–AND asking for the same support for yours. No matter how different you are.
They also told us here that the Millennial generation is looking for living in consensus. They don’t want or get fights. Is it possible for young people to see the church positively when they know that we love Jesus, but functionally dislike other Christians? Really!
What do you think? Is competition killing the church? Is loving the competition even possible for you?
I’m going to help you explore consumerism and celebrity in coming weeks.
Join the conversation on Facebook.com/FirstThird!
Nancy Going is a life-long youth minister, who loves Jesus, other people learning to love Jesus, her husband Art Going, and the two new families that are her kids and grandkids.
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