Thursday, December 15, 2011

Identity Crisis

"...the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose." C. S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
It's amazing how relevant this C. S. Lewis quote is today. Brian Dodd writes at that, "Only 4% of Generation Y (the technology generation) is actively attending church."

Here's an example of one of those 4% attending church: she is a female student who was raised in baptist church and claims to know Christ, "Wish I could go out into public with no makeup on without people judging me." What am I trying to point out: The church is NOT actively pursuing men and women "into Christ."

Could this be some random quote or maybe the teenager was having a bad day? Sure. But when you consistently hear and read about students who are more worried about themselves and their physical appearance, where is her identity?

This is one reason I believe that many in the Church have an identity crisis. You and I are the Church.

Most students I come in contact with, high school age and college students are not grounded in Christ. There is a reason and sometimes we need to ask ourselves why 96% of Generation Y is not attending a church.

Brian Dodd also states "When Bill Hybels and Rick Warren admit that small groups in their current format are simply not effective on a mass scale..."

"NOT EFFECTIVE," Hybels even authored a book on how his mega church format was not working.

I am not attacking mega churches or small groups or any church, I am just presenting an example and hoping to spur others to start doing church differently.

How do you solve an identity crisis? The Church must be grounded in Christ.

As the Church/Christians we need to start investing in people, begin teaching and living the Word to one another. And always point those around is to Him.

Consider missional living and seeking Christ together with your neighbors and others around you, just doing life, letting others witness your living testimony. Impacting those around us, being the "Church" everyday, showing them Christ begins the change.

The next "big thing", the "wow factor", whatever, is distracting from Christ. If it is anything other than Christ, than the church is going down the wrong path.

Scripture says in Acts 6, "These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly" Christ is all about moving and changing people in BIG ways, but we MUST be grounded in Him. He becomes our identity.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

Do you want our faith and the Church to become, "simply a waste of time?" Of course not. Find your identity in Christ and return to Him. Only in Him can change begin.

God bless.

1 comment:

jayiin mistaya said...

I read this post months ago and tried to write a comment that made sense.

I failed.

This post stuck with me. It nagged at me, because I wasn't sure what to think about it.

Part me just wants to hug you for writing it. Hell, I don't even really know which generation I'm a part of - it never mattered enough to me to look at, so I'm not really sure if I'm part of that tiny percentage or not.

But I think I am somewhat representative of the people who aren't being reached - at least, I was, just a few years ago.

The church is seen as being judgmental, harsh and cruel, full of condemnation and hate for people who don't toe the line, conform to the status quo and represent the 'party line.'

The church is seen as something destructive. Something that causes pain and alienates people.

I'm not sure that girl's comment was really representative of her relationship with Christ as much as her relationship with society. It speaks of her fear and her pain caused by the people outside of church and her fear of being judged by people.

I think the church is failing to reach these people because we don't tell people: "I don't care who you are, what you are, what you have done or not done - we love you and you are accepted here."

The church doesn't accept. When I was pagan, I made a practice of accepting invitations to church - partially, because I didn't want to be seen as judging Christians the way they judged me and partially because I wanted to see what would attract people to spend a good part of one of their free days of the week hanging out with people I saw as judgmental, cruel and inhospitable.

Initially, I was always welcomed. So I would go back again - with or without my friend. And after two or three visits, the same thing almost always happened (the Well is the sole exception to this - I even ran into it during my brief time at Highland Lakes camp, though from the other churches there) - the idea that after exposure to the other people and the church, I would change the core of what I am.

I would change how I dress, how I talk, the music I liked. That I would start singing along or suddenly stop being friends with the people who didn't agree with the church.

I never really did. So after a few comments and the inevitable 'you do realize that you're a terrible person because of X, right?' conversation, I would stop going, chalk it up to Christianity being bullshit and churches populated by people afraid of anyone who is different.

I think, by and large, I was right about the people. They're afraid.

If the church is going to be grounded in Christ, we need to teach people to accept everyone for who and what they are and for where they're at in their spiritual journey - even if that journey hasn't even begun. And then not be afraid of them because they're different. Not to judge, condemn, hate or push them away because they're different.

Or because they don't follow the 'rules.'

We - as the church - need to not hate. Not tell people they're wrong or they're evil or they're terrible people.

We need to teach people not to be afraid of differences, but to celebrate them.

Bah. I hope that made some sort of sense.