Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Boomer Begs You to Stop Us

I'm a baby boomer, born in '55 (a great year for Chevys and Thurnderbirds). I can still remember the first time I watched a color TV (The Wonderful World of Disney), bought a personal computer (20 meg hard drive - I kid you not) and yes, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the JFK assasination (at school).

Now that you have my boomer credentials, I have something important to say to you younger readers. To borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, I have not come today to praise boomer influence, but to bury it. Please, I am begging you, rise up and break out beyond what we boomers have taught you about church, church life and ministry in general and do it quickly! The future of Christianity may well depend upon it!

When it comes to church, we boomers had our work cut out for us and, yes, we accomplished some pretty important things. We are the generation who boldly wrested "church" out of the hands of our elders and freed it from denominationalism, cold traditionalism, theological liberalism and cultural irrelevance. We (boomers) fueled the charismatic movement, the Jesus People movement and the modern missionary movement. We coined the phrases "non-denominational church", "megachurch" and "prosperity gospel". We brought folk and rock music into the sanctuary, mass evangelism to the nations, and TBN to your television screens. And, oh yeah, we also married the church to the Republican party. And this is only where the list begins!

Now that our leading edge breaks into their sixties, we need you to do what we did to our elders and wrest the contemporary church out of our hands and set it free once again.

We boomer church leaders, addicted as we are to the need to be recognized, to "succeed", and to control everything, are killing the church in America and we need you young folk to stop us before it's too late. Too many of us have become enslaved to church trendiness. Too many of our church leaders have succumbed to the lust for ever larger markets for "our ministies" so that we have harnessed the gospel to anything from rank sensationalism to vapid inspirationalism in order to increase our "outreach". Thanks to us, the gospel is now a consumable product that we continually reimagine as an undemanding and sugar sweet "companion for our journey". We have stripped it of its sting and fire and sought to restate it as a validation of our own well-documented narcissism.

So, next generation emerging believers, leaders and pioneers, do your job. Take the life of the church and the message of the gospel back to the people through your gift for social networking and your appreciation for flatter authority structures and teamwork, and your ever-growing awareness of the nations. Start house churches, campus ministries, workplace ministries and internet fellowships that don't require boomer dollars or leadership in order to succeed. Embrace God's call to justice and glocal compassion. Recover the gift of apostolic leadership by establishing fluid networks of empowered believers and call your generation to biblical morality and holiness. Most of all please, please, please ignore whatever we have taught you about how to "successfully grow churches" and listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling you directly instead.

Soon your hands will be on the levers of power and influence throughout the Body of Christ. Soon it will soon be your turn to make your contributions to the ongoing story of God. If you can find any of us boomers who haven't sold out to be your elders, then we will all gain from the relationship. But, if you can't, please start the revolution without us.

No comments: