The insider-outsider mentality making the church seem exclusive to those who are seen as not belonging.
The accepting of all beliefs, even if the beliefs do not match.
Church ◦ Look for opportunities to split when conflict arises Youth ◦ Looking for common ground between groups of people
Church ◦ Focus has been on the individual Seeking personal responsibility on a set standard. Youth ◦ Moral and Spiritual compass has shifted to their peers ◦ More willing to give away a service to their friends if they see it as fair
Church ◦ Set standards of right and wrong from the Bible. Youth ◦ Tendency to judge whether an action was right or wrong by how fair, reasonable, or assessable the choice is.
Church ◦ Tends to have prerequisites before a person can belong Statement of faith Membership course Youth ◦ Want to be included in activities and dislike feeling as outsiders. ◦ Tendency to want everyone to be included in what they are doing.
When we choose exclusion over tolerance, the church “circles the wagons” and becomes a fortified city under siege. Exclusion
Tolerance When the church chooses tolerance over exclusion, the church “chickens” out on sharing the good news of Christ's love.
People can have a meaningful life without accepting Jesus as their Savior Christians and Muslims worship the same God The Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths It does not matter what religion you follow because they all teach the same lessons
The context! Younger Generations are “doing theology” in an environment where not everyone within the community connects with the historic faith’s truth claims Beginning to rethink (especially exiles) ◦ Evangelism ◦ Denominations ◦ The “other”
“Youth are taking cues from a culture that has made it unpopular to make bold statements about faith or be aggressively evangelistic.” Youth believe that evangelism cannot exist without actions to go with it. ◦ Kinnaman worries that they will focus on deeds so much that the gospel will get lost in the process.
Duane Litfin ◦ Word vs. Deed ◦ Nowhere in scripture does it say that we are to use deeds alone Always has some sort of verbal communication to go with it
Denominations are declining in importance when it comes to youth. Kinnaman strongly shows his support for denominations, yet sees the trend that denominations stress the differences between them, while youth are wanting to find common ground.
Youth less likely to join a church or social club, they are staying in one spot for shorter amounts of time and communicate through social networks rather than institutions. Less likely than their parents to attend on a regular basis, unless married and have kids. ◦ More likely to church shop or hop
Despite this, many churches are still approaching membership the way they did in the 60’s ◦ New people encouraged to take a class to learn the basic theology and history of the church Expected to join the church at the end of the class ◦ Church Covenant Basic beliefs and guidelines for Christian living
Basecamp ◦ Smaller communities where population is declining, church becomes a place for nourishment, basic supplies and encouragement ◦ Church focusing on those that stay and thus turning “basecamp” into a “permanent residence” ◦ Churches don’t have to change the message, but they do have to embrace the fact they may only get one shot at giving someone the gospel.
Dismembership ◦ Idea by House of Mercy in St Paul Minnesota 1996 founded with no real membership roster Joined the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), denomination required a membership roster. “membership” does not fit with the church goal of keeping open doors, windows, and minds open to all Gives pastor different way of talking about membership.
Lifeway study found about half of American churches claim to be nondemoniational 2 of the 3 largest churches are nondenominational ◦ Willow Creek (South Barrington, IL) ◦ Lakewood Church (Houston, TX)
Exclusion Tolerance Both sides are a loss for the church.
Christ did not exclude those who rejected Him nor does he tolerate our sins. Exclusion Tolerance
Instead we need to embrace the “other” ◦ Scripture ◦ Practice ◦ Empathy
Volf’s “Drama of Embrace” ◦ Act 1 “opening arms” Shows a code of desire for someone else Allows for the other person to be excluded at the cost of losing the self Signal to others that we have created space for them We must not be self indulgent otherwise we lose the genuineness of the action An invitation for the other person
Volf’s “Drama of Embrace” ◦ Act 2 “waiting” Must be done patiently and not forced The other may not be at a stage in which to accept “If the Embrace takes place, it will always be because the has desired to embrace the one giving the invitation.
Volf’s “Drama of Embrace” ◦ Act 3 “closing the arms” The ultimate goal of the embrace Properly carried out when there are no strings attached to either side Do Not Squeeze It then becomes an act of control and then exclusion
Volf’s “Drama of Embrace” ◦ Act 4 “releasing the arms” Releasing each other and returning to your personal identity Brings us back to the beginning, ready for the next embrace which may occur moments or years later
Scriptures that deal with the “other.” ◦ The Wedding Banquet Luke 14:15-24 ◦ The Lost Sheep Luke 15:1-7 ◦ The Prodigal’s Son Luke 15:11-32
Three questions to evaluate the importance of word vs deed ◦ 1) What are the needs of this person? Emotional Physical Intellectual Spiritual Social
Three questions to evaluate the importance of word vs deed ◦ 2) What are the person’s “most important” needs? Spiritual always at the top!! Yet always linked with one of the other 4
Three questions to evaluate the importance of word vs deed ◦ 3) What are the person’s “most urgent” needs? Spiritual still at the top Others will reorder themselves as to how we can best serve them.
Missions ◦ Interdenominational information sharing Example Pastor has a “revolutionary” idea to connect local congregations to those overseas for the purpose of local missions Would do well to learn from the Wesleyan Church who have been doing this very well for a long time
“Empathy is the ability to see a situation, an emotion, an action through Christ’s eyes and through the other person’s heart. When I have empathy, I begin to understand the love Christ has for the hurting and see the situation from their point of view. It is a way of humbling yourself and putting other’s needs and emotions before your own.”
Television ◦ We make time each week to join in with our favorite characters as we watch their lives unfold through flashback, flash forward or sideways. ◦ We become attuned to these characters and they may change our views on the people they represent. ◦ However these feelings may not translate to real life.
Missions ◦ Sevice projects to give direct contact with the “other” Small Groups ◦ Allows for students to form empathy for each other through conversations in a positive peer culture
The next generation is opening its arms inviting the church to rethink different aspects of church. After embracing youth and their ideas we may find the need to change what we are doing in order to better reach the next generation for Jesus