I recently read a blogspot on the website churchleaders.com titled “10 Things That Demonstrate The World You Grew Up In No Longer Exists”. At the risk of not doing it justice, let me give you an abridged list of their thoughts and a couple of my own.
Church attendance is now a fringe activity and Regular church attendance is irregular – “Church Attenders” are a minority in our community and those who do attend are likely to do so less frequently.
“All Welcome” means nothing and “God” has become generic – Both terms have been used so much that they have lost their meaning, or at least they are not understood as we think they are.
A band, lights and smoke machine are traditional and “Hillsong” and other ‘contemporary’ church music is no longer relevant – these things have become a tradition in many churches just like pews and hymns have in others, and the music we play – even our ‘contemporary’ music – is far removed from the community around us. To quote the blog “The culture has moved on to other music; hip hop, R&B, DJ, pop and so much more… Culture sounds less like Coldplay or U2 and more like Bruno Mars, Drake or Chainsmokers.”
The light show no longer captivates – it used to be amazing. Now it is common.
Background understanding is often zero, No church can be better than some church and People don’t know what they’re converting to – our community and society has lost its Christian background and culture. It is often easier to reach someone who has no exposure to the Gospel and church than someone who has been turned off by church, but that then means that we must actually know and teach what Christianity is about because people just don’t know.
Blogs and Facebook are now more influential than books or emails and … church members follow a dozen ministry leaders… – people are more likely to read or watch something delivered on their phone than they are to buy a book or open a chain email message. This means that the local pastor is no longer the only, or even the dominant, voice of spirituality in people’s lives. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it also means two things which are not good: firstly, anyone with access to a webcam can be influential (especially if they have the ability to look the part with good camera angles and the right set) without any qualification or vetting (we wouldn’t let just anyone preach at church, but anyone can post a video) and secondly, the online personality has no relation to everyday life – you don’t get to see their lives beyond the podcast.
There are so many other things we could talk about. I watched (on a phone) a video of a church in Glasgow, Scotland, where the male worship leader wore 3/4 length leather pants, a t-shirt and base ball cap backwards. The music was more hip-hop and alternative than hymns. And they were reaching hundreds of millennials. I remember a song we used to sing in church that said “all over the world people just like us are calling your name and living in your love…” And that is precisely the problem. The people in our community are increasingly not like us. They think and behave differently and they express their beliefs differently. The world around us has changed and is changing at an ever increasing rate. If we want to speak into it, we need to be culturally relevant to it. We used to be able to speak because we held the cultural high ground – we had the bases covered, so to speak, but we no longer do. Our community and culture can rightly say, in the words of the Meme, “all your base are belong to us.”
And oddly enough, this makes us more like Jesus than we were a couple of decades ago because we find ourselves in the same situation he did – a culture and world that was not like him, that had no experience of him and was changing at a rapid pace with a variety of understandings of God and religion and what it meant to be pious. Because of this, we need to look at the model which Jesus presents for us instead of just the model that we have inherited from generations past.