Part 2 – Church in a Season of Change
I used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me. ~Abraham Simpson
OK, I get it. With things changing as rapidly as they are, I can understand why older Christians might want to keep a place that is dependable and not subject to the ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ of contemporary culture. Let the world have its computers and smart phones; let it have its strange fashions and declining values. Just give us a place that feels familiar. Of course, if the refugees from this weird world want to come join us and find a little sanity, that would be OK. They would be welcome.
I get it.
But what about the mandate we have to carry the gospel? As much as we might want to preserve a quiet piece of the landscape to call our own, we still have a mission as the church. Moreover, the refugees from this weird world often aren’t drawn to what was normal for us (Yeah, yeah. I’m a boomer. I remember ‘normal’). So, what about the refugees? Do we insist on compliance with our old-school sensibilities? Or do we face reality: our ways are declining; our time has come and is nearly gone. We need to lead, follow or get the heck outta da way.
Still, there remains this: people of all generations have something to gain from one another. One of the most meaningful revelations that I have ever had (if I can claim revelation without being presumptuous) was the understanding that God intended for the hearts of the fathers and the children to be turned toward each other. He made that clear in the last verse of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6) and then again, as if to emphasize the point by breaking of 400 years of silence with the same thought, in the first prophetic words of the New Testament (Luke 1:17).
Thus, hangs the question: what can be done to mid-twentieth century churches to make an orderly transition of generations while encouraging a healthy interdependence among them?