I grew up in a acceptable abbey that was added absorbed in blind on to its formalities than it was in open-mindedly assessing why it was accident its youth. My own adolescence accumulation was absolutely ample but by the time we had accomplished 18 the all-inclusive majority of us had absolved abroad from the church. As a aftereffect of these adventures I have, for a continued time, been absolutely absorbed in the affair of adolescence and church.
Enter the avant-garde church. Among abounding added things, the avant-garde abbey was an attack to actualize a abbey ability that was both adorable and absorptive of its youth. However, afterwards abounding years of traveling down that alley we are still publishing books on how adolescence are abrogation abbey in droves. It appears the avant-garde abbey has failed.
But why? The answers are as circuitous as the problem, but acquiesce me to present a archetype that I accept contributes, conceivably added than any added reason, to the adolescence departure that plagues churches everywhere.
Before I do so, acquiesce me to anatomize the abbey into three chunks. The aboriginal block we will alarm the “heart beat” of the church. This is what gives the abbey its life, animation and relevance. In added words, the affection exhausted is the purpose of the church. The additional block we will alarm the “muscle”. This is what enables the abbey to reside out its purpose. In an Adventist bounded abbey this would include- in allotment – the “business meeting” (most able affair in the abbey which involves every abbey member), the “board meeting” (where appointed leaders of the abbey accommodated to apparatus the decisions of the abbey and to beacon the abbey through adumbrative decisions) and “ministry meetings” (where admiral leaders of assorted ministries get calm to plan for the year). In added words, the beef of the abbey is its system. The third block is the cosmetics of the church. This is the getting anybody sees like the age of the building, its cleanliness and its upkeep. But this aswell involves the church’s appearance like its dress code, its agreeable niche, its autogenous architecture etc. In added words, the cosmetics of the abbey is its style.
Now that we accept disconnected the abbey into these three chunks acquiesce me to acquaint what I accept is the above botheration with the abbey today. Jesus gave the abbey a affection beat: the abundant commission. This assignment to accomplish aggregation of all nations is why the abbey exists. It is its purpose. The beef of the abbey is appropriately absolutely active in bringing this purpose about. And the cosmetics of the abbey acclimate to the altered cultures and ancestors that that accurate bounded abbey is speaking into. However, at some point in history the abbey seems to accept absent its affection beat. Once it absent its affection exhausted (making aggregation of all nations) it became bedeviled with itself. As a aftereffect the beef of the abbey switched from an apparent focused arrangement set up to facilitate the ability of the abundant agency to an entering focused arrangement set up to accumulate the abbey associates happy. The end aftereffect of this was churches that cared little of how they were perceived in their communities and instead focused on befitting one accession happy. The cosmetics of the abbey appropriately evolved, not as a apparatus for speaking into culture, but as a anniversary of nostalgia.
Then one day, a able-bodied acceptation affiliate accomplished that all the adolescence were absolutely not exhausted with church. So this able-bodied acceptation affiliate batten with accession able-bodied acceptation affiliate and calm they absitively something had to be done. What can we do to allure and absorb our youth? They asked. And the acknowledgment was consistently the same: We accept to accomplish abbey cool.
OK, maybe no one anytime acclimated those exact words. But that’s what it all boils down to. A lot of of the avant-garde abbey is ultimately anxious with getting “cool” abundant so that its adolescence feel adequate and apperceive the abbey as relevant. But it hasn’t worked. We are still publishing books and allotment analysis on the “youth departure issue” and abbey leaders beyond the lath apperceive that adolescence are still leaving. In addition, the avant-garde church’s attack has become the article of contemptuousness both in the abbey and in the ability the abbey is allegedly reaching. Check out this video, by Nick Thune, which communicates absolutely how abounding civil post-moderns apperceive the abbey of today.
The video is both amusing and sad. Amusing because the dude is funny! Sad because the avant-garde abbey has become so predictable, bank and “cool” that it can be so calmly caricatured and ridiculed. And the affliction allotment of it all is it hasn’t worked.
But why? Well, actuality is my theory. Remember the accomplished heart-beat, beef and corrective thing? If the abbey absent its affection exhausted its beef became abortive and its corrective gradually absent blow with its culture. If able-bodied acceptation associates absitively to seek a solution, however, rather than go to the amount of the affair and fix that (the abbey had no affection beat) they artlessly tweaked the cosmetics. But what do you get if you ablution a tomb white? You get a white done tomb. It’s appealing on the outside, but central it’s still abounding of asleep men’s bones. So what do you get if you yield a abbey that has no affection exhausted with an atrophied able-bodied anatomy and artlessly change the cosmetics? You get a abbey that’s appealing on the outside, but fundamentally it is still dead, extraneous and useless. It alone takes the adolescence (who ability be initially admiring by your coffee bar and abreast Christian adoration band) so continued afore they amount out that your abreast abbey is, afar from the cosmetics, no altered to the acceptable abbey that they ran abroad from. It’s still boring. It’s still irrelevant. It still exists for annihilation added than the abatement of its own membership. It has no lasting, impacting or accepted acumen to exist. And after that affection exhausted you can change your cosmetics all you wish and you will end up with annihilation added than a bank and abominable adaptation of Christianity that hardly resembles the apple alteration movement Jesus advised us to be.
Am I adjoin the cosmetics? Of advance not. There’s annihilation worse than walking into a abbey and it feels like you just stepped aback 100 years. There is annihilation worse than churches who acutely accept no absorption or ability of the ability and its language. But here’s my point – the cosmetics should be the aftereffect of accepting a affection beat. They are not the affair that causes it. Change them all you want, but it will not animate your church, accumulate your youth, or allure your neighbors. But a abbey with a affection that beats for the torn and lives to allotment the actuality to its association by acts of mercy, amends and account is a accordant abbey that will appulse its apple of access for decades to come.
Let’s be that affectionate of church.