I think It’s time I wrote about this. This post is about the status of the church. Not the entirety of the body, but my experience and thoughts about what I have observed in many parts of it.
In my childhood, I recall eagerly greeting my church family with hugs and handshakes. After every service, I would go from group to group and person to person trying my best to speak with everyone. I in addition to the love I felt I had a boundless admiration for our predecessors. The Founding Generations of many of our churches built a foundation for success. They did this without the security of wealth or the privilege of higher learning. They found a way to build the churches despite the turmoil they faced as African Americans. As time went on they left the future in the hands of their successors; my father’s generation. In my adolescences, I would shadow my mother & father. Growing up in church I was never forced to go to church or dragged out of bed. Much like my parents I love God and love to be around people who feel the same way. Most importantly I love growing. When your a kid that’s motivation enough, being in love with God and wanting to grow stronger in that love. If a child doesn’t want to go to church chances are they aren’t experiencing authentic love. God’s authentic love is impossible to resist for children.
People often use fear and reverence as interchangeable terms. It’s my belief that this has lead many to miss out on the fullness of what God has for them. Often we preach the gospel from a dangerous place called nostalgia. We believe ourselves to be following in the footsteps of greatness. Yet the reality is we are more often than not sinking in their shadows. So often I hear about how the “old saints were harsh and strict”. But was that really what made the church the built great? Discipline is necessary to drive out disobedience, however, you seemed to have missed the point. The founding generation knew that to survive a tough world you had to be tougher. But at the same time, I’ve heard stories that highlighted the Christ in them. To many of us are chasing after the “Rod of Disciple” and forgetting it is held by “The Hand of Mercy”. We act as the only way to righteousness is to judge or be judged. We focus so much on what not to do we forget to be examples of what should be done. There are people in every generation that need to be saved. So an effective church sees growth at every level. But if your church has not had stable growth in 40 years you can’t blame it on my generation.
What have you done with the foundation the founders left for you. They didn’t build all of these churches for their names to be worshiped or for the pews to be empty. My generation wants to see an authentic move of God. My generation doesn’t care about fancy stages or tittles. We aren’t impressed by the simulacra of salvation we want the real thing. Emotional Experience has become the cultural capital of the American Church. Nostalgia is just another form of this. It impossible for us to have nostalgia for a time before we existed. Toxic Nostalgia has created stagnation in our services. To many of you are content with the status quo. Our God is infinite so why do we place finite limitations on Him? Why are we content to just do church as usual. For the Founding Generation Christ was the a The Solid Rock of their foundation. To many of us are building our Churches atop the sands of nostalgia. That is why we see churches flooded and crumbling under the waves of modern society. It is not because of some new threat. It is because we are so focused on where are predecessors went we forgot where they came from.
Many of you inherited leadership from your parents and grandparents. You are disappointed that your family isn’t living up to your expectations. But you forget Moses had children but it was Joshua who inherited his mantle. There are many of you that desire to turn an Absalom into a Solomon. Then when Absalom fails you, you blame an entire generation for the shortcomings of the few. Likewise, there are some of you who Operate like King Saul and expect us to follow you into war much like Jonathan. Moses and David inherited the legacy of God’s promise to Abraham. Moses was a great leader, but he wasn’t perfect. His harsh tongue and disobedience kept him from realizing entering The Promised Land. David was a great king but his “hidden” sin and bloody hands kept him from building The Temple. Despite their shortcomings, God provided them people to continue their legacy. When Moses grew too old to hold up his staff it was Joshua that held up his hands. When Moses passed away it was Joshua that lead the Israelites into Jerusalem. David fought to keep Jerusalem safe. David collected the resources for The Temple, but it was Solomon who built it. It was Solomon who prayed for wisdom on how to rule. It troubles my soul to see so many of our churches taking the route of Saul. Much like Saul you look at your successors as if they don’t have what it takes to be king. You try to equip them with your armor to fight battles you are too afraid to fight yourselves. When God says it’s time to pass on the mantle you fight to destroy the very people who want to help you.
We cannot afford to continue this way. There is a generation coming up that needs to feel the authentic love of Christ. A generation that needs a place to grow. Every member of my generation has entered adulthood. What comes next is a generation that is going to need guidance. This world will always be chaotic. Christians should reflect God’s light. If we are too busy bickering to be beacons we are of no use to anyone. I am challenging everyone who reads this post to ask themselves who they are. Who are you to the generation that came before. Who are you to the generation that came after. Maybe your Moses and you’ve been in the same spot for 40 years. Or maybe you are Joshua inheriting a battle you don’t feel equipped for. Are you a Saul or David? Are you a Jonathan, Absalom, or Solomon? What role are you playing it shaping the next generation? If you what to be Absalom, then clear the way for Solomon. If you are a Saul, clear the way for David. If you are a Jonathan why are you fighting alongside someone you know is heading in the wrong direction. Is that really where you want to make your grave?
What is your legacy and what is your foundation? Would you find it satisfying to spend another 40 years where you are now? I am 26 and I have prayed about this for the better part of a decade. I am not content to sit in stagnation. I want to see a revolution. I want to see change. I want to experience Boundless Admiration for what the body is doing. I want to be challenged to grow and help those around me grow as well. What is it that you want? Is what you have now really enough for you?