I feel like there’s a sea of change coming for what christianity looks like in america. Like so many times before, we sit on a generational cusp, where the older and younger generations aren’t just different, but so supremely different that I see change being the only way forward for the church.
40% of people church attenders under the age of 40 have stopped attending in the last year. That’s not a seasonal or cyclical pattern, that’s a mass exodus. Sitting squarely between the two generations, identifying with both depending on the topic- I feel inspired that change is coming. And it’s coming like on ocean wave- both good, beautiful, and scary.
I have a passion for this city that by happenstance became my home. I am not a patriot, I just think I’d love the place I live no matter where I live. So it’s not comparative, it’s not better in a way that makes some other place worse, it’s just love for where God has placed me. Because I love this city, I want it to know Jesus. I want for the people who live here to see in the christians around them a powerful visual of what Jesus might look and act like if he were in front of them.
But if I want to see that happen I have to ask why is it not happening right now? Or if indeed the assessment that it isn’t happening is true at all. And when I ponder it myself, when I pray about it with those who also love the city, it seems to be not just an underlying assumption but he conviction in my heart that we are not seeing Salem reached for Jesus.
My wife and I have recently grappled strongly questioning what comes next in this season of life, and as we have done that it has of course come up what church we would attend if we weren’t attending where I work right now. The depressing answer was that there isn’t another church in town that we would have any sort of enthusiasm or excitement to begin attending. While MorningStar may be the home church for men who felt that their originating church wasn’t quite conservative enough, I feel like so many other churches also run on the underlying assumption that Jesus would approve of either political party. We have (or we should have) a massive guilt that we have allowed ourselves to attach things to the gospel that simply aren’t there. I’ve had senior pastors of churches in town say things like “what’s an implied thing in scripture for one person is explicit for another” and I’m repulsed by the thought that we have embraced moral relativism. I came to know Jesus in a church that was very strongly of the mind that morals stand independent of our feelings about them, that we can be right or wrong in our pursuit of them or what we think is the right action, but in the end there is indeed a right action to be had. It’s the basis of all meaningful conversation about what a human aught to do or aught not to do. We can admit that we don’t know, and we often should! But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t such a thing as a right action. But so often we don’t want to admit that we don’t know or that God intentionally allowed a vagueness to a particular topic, and so in the vain of so many made up religions we continue to make up our own. Downgrading God to be in our image.
Feeling strongly that I would abandon in short term any church that espoused as fact what God did not make explicit, we both came to the conclusion that no church in town would really be for us. It doesn’t mean that there are churches in town truly seeking Jesus. I truly believe there are churches that want Jesus to be known, but I wonder strongly if we have all missed the mark and allowed things that Jesus didn’t say to become part of our core doctrine, part of what must be agreed-upon to feel comfortable in a given church. So as we settled that none were for us, and that even where I work I’d depart if I wasn’t working there, I began to struggle:
Because I also believe strongly that we ought to go to church, that we should be in a collection of believers chasing after Jesus and encouraging one another, challenging one another, loving one another, comforting one another. These things are not optional in the Christian life!
But if every church in town or possibly my feeling about the general American church is so quick to tie non-scriptural explicit to the word of God but at the same time I know I ought to be involved in a church, that my spiritual health depends on it, what am I to do?
Screw it- I’m just going to record a video, here it is: