In general, Christian churches are getting smaller and older.
I don’t think it’s because young people are less spiritually hungry. Not at all. I think it’s because we have so closely wed the Christian Story and the Enlightenment worldview.
It was OK that we did… until the Enlightenment worldview began to die. At that point many Christians decide to make a stand to try and defend it against an overwhelming tide of scientific evidence.
Young people had no choice but to look for spiritual insight elsewhere.
Many young people check us out. They are quite hungry spiritually. But when they see how adamantly we insist that the Christian Story be told in Enlightenment terms, while they are usually quite polite about it, they just go away.
The Christian Church has an ever-decreasing pool of people from whom to draw; people willing to resist the Quantum Era; willing to ignore the implications of quantum physics.
So, the American Church is shrinking. The American Church is getting older. The weight of our religion has shifted to South America, Africa, and Asia, where the Enlightenment worldview is still in full swing.
This blog is an invitation to spend some time and energy thinking about how to be Christian divorced from the Enlightenment worldview. This shouldn’t be so difficult, for goodness sake. We were Christian a long time before we became Enlightenment people.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we could really use an update. The way we’re telling the Christian Story these days isn’t even working for us. The world is not against us. We’ve become ill. They just don’t want to join us in our illness.
I read recently that two out of three ministers would leave the ministry if they could find another way to pay the bills. We don’t like the way we’ve become.
We don’t like the positions we feel we have to keep up. We don’t like being harsh and intolerant to gay people. We don’t like rigidly insisting that people believe what we do before they join us. We don’t like being hypocritical, faithfully holding the party line, but unable to truly internalize it. We don’t like telling people that God will help them do better in life; but not experiencing that ourselves.
We don’t like where we are. But we fight to stay here. Our Enlightenment instincts demand it. Even though the rest of our lives are out of sync with our religious lives, we do.
We need our own Reformation.
We need the same kind of update to our religion that happened five hundred years ago.
Like the Reformers, we need to stand up and protest (Protestants) once again. We need to throw off the shackles of the precise, mechanical way we’ve imagined God and told our Story.
That’s what we need.
That is such a frightening and painful proposition that most of us won’t do it.