Published May 17, 2012
Steve Jones and his wife, Cheryl, are members of First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville. The Loganville couple has authored The Damascus Road to Divorce Recovery, which they have taught in church workshops for the past 20 years.
Jones is a senior software developer and his wife is the daughter of the late Wray Ivey, who served as director of the GBC Church Services and Development Division for several years.In this installment of Georgia Voices he shares a concern that
Christians “are losing a key component of who we are and what we offer as our structure and traditions deteriorate.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forty some odd years ago folks my age were in the youth group at our church. We kind of did our own thing. We would have our own mid-week service where we wore blue jeans and shorts, we sat on the floor, we had a garage band playing some variation of the latest CCM hits, we drank Cokes during the service, the speaker was young and cool and wore young, cool clothes and talked about how cool Jesus was and that He is our bud and likes to hang with us.
We went to Big Church on Sunday mornings, but we just didn’t connect in there. It was our mid-week service where we really connected. It was relevant.
The building where we had Big Church was a sanctuary. On Sunday mornings we had a choir – they wore robes – we sang hymns – the pastor wore a suit and tie – we finished our coffee before going in – we were reverent – the place looked like Church – and we referred to it as God’s House.
Then … one day … slowly … but surely … the winds of change began to blow. New churches were built that looked more like middle schools than sanctuaries. The choir robes were no longer necessary because the choir was no longer necessary.
In its place, we had a praise band. The hymn books were put away and down dropped a screen with five words on it that we sang over … and over … and over. The 30-something on our left sips his Starbucks Venti. The 40-something on our right puts her flip-flopped feet on the chair in front of her. Then the fashionista pastor hits the stage running and punches up a PowerPoint kicking off his new series on “iGod”.
And I looked around … and I shook my head … as I whispered to myself, “Shame on us.”
Just when it was time for us 50- and 60-somethings to step into our roles of leadership in our traditional churches, we blinked. And three generations of eternal-youths were right behind us ready to change the face of church and worship.
I don’t get Seeker-Friendly. Haven’t our mainline Protestant churches always been friendly to seekers Are there two groups of seekers? One group is seeking with their head. They are curious and willing to listen and then decide what is right for them. These seekers flock to the cool churches and most will still be seeking this time next year.
Another group is seeking with their heart. These folks need something, rather than just wanting something. They are hurting and empty and lost. They run to the first thing that looks like a church. Inside they feel hope. Outside they didn’t feel hope. Inside they feel love. Outside they didn’t feel love.
Everything is different. The seating is different (pews). The songs are different (hymns). The message is different (that strange feeling is called conviction). Different is needed. Heart-seekers aren’t going to find what they’re looking for in most “cool” churches. Donuts and coffee don’t cut it. God’s House is still open for business.
I am hearing more and more young people who grew up in a traditional church talk about missing certain things. They miss the hymns, Wednesday Night Supper, and choir practice. And then they have kids and they miss things for them. They miss Sunday School, VBS, and DNow.
They are realizing that they traded cool for all these things they knew and loved. And all of a sudden, cool ain’t so cool anymore.
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