STRAIGHT TALK WITH PASTOR LENA
For the past decade, and the last few years in particular, churches and pastors have been bombarded by a plethora of “experts” pushing their latest ideologies regarding the “cultural shift” that has been happening within the church. We are inundated with seminars, resources, and new terminology that supposedly addresses this cultural shift. But after all the discussions, the planning, the enthusiasm, and the trial runs, most often we, as pastors, are the ones left trying to explain why these programs and ideologies tend to fail within three to five years of commencement, leaving congregations feeling both incompetency and failure.
I, too, once believed in a cultural change occurring within the church, and within society. Now, however, I believe that it goes much further – much deeper. Instead of a simple change of culture, I believe we are living in and witnessing an irreversible paradigm shift, and one that is simply not being addressed by the church “experts.”
This paradigm shift is obvious when looking at the moda d’operandi of church. “Come, Listen, Leave,” had been the accepted practice for generations since the great revivals of the 1800’s. Now, however, and in particular with the Millennial generation, the accepted practice is, ”Come, Learn, Do.” This young generation is not interested in merely hearing a good sermon and good music, as it demands life-changing, life-enhancing lessons which go hand in hand with opportunities of Christian apprenticeship in the real world. No longer is it accepted to just “be” a Christian, as this new generation demands proof. It is not a matter of walking the walk or talking the talk, but of both walking and talking in a unified force.
And this paradigm shift is what is creating an ever widening gap between the older generations that make up most of our congregations and the younger generations that are turning en force to those social and religious opportunities that provide the atmosphere to “Come, Learn, and Do.” As pastors, we often find ourselves falling within the gap. The older expect and desire only to “Come, Listen, and Leave” to the frustration and ire of those who desire to “Come, Learn and Do.” It demands of the pastor, patience, grace, understanding and the wisdom of Solomon. And I, for one, am often left feeling that if the church is going to move into the future, we must be willing to move with this paradigm shift or the baton will be dropped and not retrieved.
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