November 24, 2014

Wanted: An Adult Faith in a Youth Culture

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It struck me the other day that one of the reasons I have returned to mainline religion is because it’s so, well, adult.

Contrary to what I hear around me so often, I want my grandfather’s church.

I know, I know… there are characteristics of that old, traditional church that are not desirable: many had a narrow, parochial spirit, many were characterized by pervasive judgmental attitudes. They could be exclusive, racist, uncreative, and stuck in their ways. This I readily admit and abhor. A congregation that replaces a living, thriving, growing tradition with anemic or dead traditionalism is of no interest to me.

But I want a church where I know and feel that the adults are in charge, where wisdom trumps enthusiasm, where historical perspective is considered, where depth is valued as much as breadth, where stories have shaped us for generations.

I want a church building made of stone and wood, quality materials, with natural light and symbolic significance and a certain level of aesthetic excellence upheld in architecture, art, furnishings, music, liturgy, and preaching and teaching. I don’t want to be snobbish about it, as though these things are there to represent and satisfy my good taste. That is not the point. Rather, they should communicate weightiness, solidity, permanence. Those who come among us should think: “This is a place where life and love and God and people are taken seriously.”

I’m done with an approach to the faith that flies by the seat of its pants and calls it “spiritual.” Gatherings that feel like pep rallies, youth conventions, or pop concerts hold no appeal. I need to be humbled, not enthused; to know my place in a diverse, multi-generational community of ordinary people who are learning to “walk and not faint,” nourished by spiritual leaders and institutions that have gravitas and maturity.

Give me the neighborhood church on the corner, not the big box church on the suburban highway; the robed pastor in the pulpit, not the hipster who preaches from his iPad or the superstar on the video screen. Give me candles and altarware, you can keep the stage lights. Walk me through the Church Year, and help me teach my kids the Catechism. Keep things simple and meaningful. Don’t program us to death with something for everyone. Let us learn to love our neighbors by participating in the community through being involved in the schools, the sports and recreation leagues, the Scouts, the arts and in charitable causes. Give us time to have evening meals with our families and Sunday afternoons at the park or visiting with friends.

I understand the attraction of youth and enthusiasm and energy. We need young leaders too, but let them be those who have older mentors to guide them and recommend them, not brash entrepreneurs who come with all the answers and stake out territory on their own. As I said before, I want the adults to be in charge.

And if you send me a postcard advertising your church as “not your grandfather’s church,” I’m here to tell you right now that is not a selling point. Grandpa’s church is the very one I’m trying to find.

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Photo: Joshua Taylor Photography

Comments

  1. Big-box churches are chain franchises, in the same way that big-box stores and franchise fast-food joints are.

    Very unappealing, on the whole – to me, anyway.

    And it’s not really because I’m getting older (though I definitely am). It’s because the kinds of churches you’re describing just work better for me. For one, they give a feeling of continuity with the past, and with the (yet-unknown) future. It’s not so much that there’s “tradition” as that there’s a living link, in prayer and liturgy, with the entire body of Christ and communion of saints.

    It’s not that I love ritual for its own sake, either – I don’t. But there’s something deeply meaningful in praying the Psalms together, in the Scripture readings (so carefully thought out), in the church year. It is sustaining in a way that I’ve never found anywhere out there in the so-called evangelical circus.

    • +1. My thoughts exactly.

      • I think you and I both count the music as a big plus. : )

        Really, some of the best worship/prayer I have ever been involved in happened during my late teens, when I got to pray the late a.m. office with a small group of RC nuns. The language in the book of hours was contemporary, yet it had the same feel as the 1928 C of E prayer book, and we all wanted to pray together. Some days were hard, but there’s something about it all – the use of Psalms and other passages from Scripture, the sense of stability and continuity – that made it worth doing.

  2. I might have injured my neck nodding along with this. Especially the bit about grandpa’s church.

  3. Y’all can bellyache all you want about the lack of solidity, continuity, and gravitas in “today’s” church but I’m the one responsible for this mess.

    Yep, me, your humble Mule.

    When I was a child, I did go to my Grandpa’s RCA church, and was a weekly martyrdom for me. There were a lot of adults there, and none of this Kids’ Church nonsense; no puppets, no hip-hop music, no breakdancing while the grownups were suffering through the Word and Table ministry in the Sanctuary. Nosiree, we had to sit through every last word of the sermon, skin prickling with the summer heat (no AC either, just big ceiling fans).

    I didn’t know how good I had it.

    Fast forward to Woodstock Mule, recently converted from the late 60s and early 70s drug culture, looking for a place to “worship Jesus, man, like, in Spirit and Truth” Of course, if you could throw in a little Doobie Brothers, a little Jim Croce, hey! all the better! By the time the 70s were over, it was straight worship bands with the cool daddy-o worship leaders with the square knit ties and the shades indoors, and the New Wave chick singers that got gothier and gothier as the 70s progressed into the 80s and 90s.

    By 1992 the almighty Market had spoken and you couldn’t find the hymns anywhere, but Woodstock Mule had transmogrified into Existentially Anxious Mule, who was starting to wonder if Jesus had really sent the Holy Spirit to create a loose network of colonies of basement dwellers. I went out looking for the hymns again. Fortunately, there were enough like me that the almighty Market was able to give me EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED!!! Guess what I found in my Ancient-Modern PCA church? Right! Lots of Boomers.

    So, what am I afraid of now that I’m in Orthodoxy, the One True Church®? Do I really believe that just because I’m Orthodox now that I won’t fall in with a lot of Boomers who demand the right Akathists and Kontakia sung in just the right tone? And we’ll get it too, because the almighty Market will find a way to give it to us.

    I need a way to find what I need, not what I want. I want a Church I can’t ***k up, because I’ve already done that to too many other churches. I don’t need Chicken Soup, I need chemotherapy.

    • We all NEED Jesus chemotherapy!

      The Jesus movement of the 70’s was great. Then came the 80’s where everything when crazy, just crazy.

      • andie – were you around during the 70s? Because the Jesus Movement spawned all kinds of very serious problems, and they came along well before we hit the 80s.

        signed,
        a survivor of the Jesus Movement

        • I think it actually goes further back than the Jesus Movement, back to tent revivals, where the main focus of the worship service became the altar call, not serving God in holiness and righteousness, the main goal became getting people saved, instead of creating disciples. The music began to turn then, to appealing tunes and words that got the emotions going. And preaching that was centered on the rapture, and a genera twisting of Scripture that seriously damaged many people’s thinking about God, Man, Sin, and Redemption.

          I dunno if grandpa’s church avoided all of that, but at least it had roots that were deeper than the Second Great Awakening.

          • bunso – agreed, though there were serious problems with authoritarianism (among other things) as the Jesus movement developed. (See Calvary Chapel and Chuck Smith, for example.)

            Many who started out well ended badly (to say the least!)

    • Josh in FW says:

      +1

    • Cedric Klein says:

      Waiiiiit a minute! You had Goth chick singers in your church?!?! I’d love that!

  4. Rick Ro. says:

    How many of us nodding as we read this are under the age of 35? I’m not, and I venture none of the other commenters are, either. The problem with Grandpa’s Church is that it appeals mostly to us old-fogeys as we age and mature. It’s kinda like Proverbs, the father trying to share wisdom with his son and spare him life’s knocks. But unless the son trusts his father’s wisdom, he won’t “get it” until he lives and learns and suffers some on his own.

    Is there a way to make the “wisdom” of Grandpa’s Church more appealing to the younger generation, to the point where they “get it” before they get to our age?

    • I’m 27 and was nodding in agreement as I read this. My first exposure to Christianity was in Grandpa’s church and it was that exposure that kept me rooted in Christianity throughout my adolescence when my family left Grandpa’s church for the revivalist style churches of Evangelicalism. Now I want to be back in Grandpa’s church because I recognize that I am far better off there spiritually than I am in the mainstream, big-box, Saddleback/Willow Creek style churches. The wheel isn’t broken, there’s no need to reinvent it.

    • I don’t think so. I’m under 35, and this article speaks for me. Michael Gungor gets this too:
      http://gungormusic.com/2013/03/catholicism/, and he is in a position to single handedly lead hoards of Evangelical youth in this direction.
      In the LCMS, our more prominent youth worker sells this T-shirt:
      http://worldvieweverlasting.spreadshirt.com/the-original-grandpa-s-church-A6258912/customize/color/1
      Kids don’t trust the “father’s wisdom” because the fathers aren’t believing it themselves. They think kids want old people trying to act cool to sell them religion. Might I suggest this is the very reason the youth are fleeing the church: they’re looking for something more, but we’re too busy talking down to them.

      It isn’t that Grandpa’s church is too unappealing to the kids: The problem is that it’s only Grandpa’s church. Grandpa’s need to realize the church belongs to their children, too, and actively pursue ways of integrating the youth into the life of the congregation. The kids need to be catechized to understand what the church teaches and why, and how tradition conveys this. I’ve yet to meet the former Christian who can articulate clearly and consistently the substance of orthodoxy and tradition. Most simply regurgitate Richard Dawkins straw men, but I say we created those straw men trying to appeal to them in the first place.

      When everything done in the name of religion has to be spiced up to capture the attention of the ADD generation, what gets subtly taught is that God’s Word is boring, it needs these other things in order to survive in the market of hobbies. When we teach this, we shouldn’t be surprised when people believe it. It soon becomes more expedient to have all those other things without Christianity.

    • I was nodding along, and I’m 26.

      And I think there’s a bit of a generational backlash to the Willow Creek generation. Those of us under 35 likely grew up in Willow Creek type churches. For some (probably the majority) of my generation, the response seems to have been to either turn the relevance up to 11. But for others, I think the response has been to look back at what Mom and Dad rejected and check it out. Maybe it’s just rebelling against Mom and Dad, they way that they did against Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe it’s just a hipster thing–going vintage, making a trend of going against the trends. But I do think that there is, among some of my generation, a genuine rejection of the rootlessness and fad-chasing of the evangelical circus.

    • My church is filled with people under 35 and is quite liturgical. I believe so many like it because they can sense the maturity in it. They know that the adults are in charge — and since they’re 22 (or 34) they’re adults as well and are expected to act as such. The older ones model spiritual maturity and the younger ones take note. Those looking to grow (and not just sit in a seminar-style teaching class, get self-help tips weekly, or catch the latest wave of music) are finding their way to places adults are in charge.

    • RickRo – I am a revert to the ELCA after several decades in the evangelical/charismatic part of the circus.

      Here’s the thing: “grandpa’s church”-type churches are much more understanding about our humanity (good and bad aspects thereof), suffering, and much, much more.

      And the good ones are not in any way invasive or controlling.

      It took being kicked out of a “church” for me to start finding out that there was real grace and love in what I left behind for the circus.

      Glad to be back!

    • Danielle says:

      For the record, I’m 34, and I’ve identified with the above essay since I was 20…

    • I haven’t been under 35 for years, but this is exactly how I felt when I was confirmed into the Anglican church at 12.

    • I’m 17 , I and I think CM is right on target

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Well, I’ll be! You all just put me in my place! ;) And glad to hear it, actually!

      Some of you might be interesting to hear that as a Kids Worship leader twice a month in my church, I’m feeling led by the Spirit to move away from the typical kid-sy curriculum and more toward flat-out Bible lessons. I’ve just begun teaching elementary school ages out of the book of Hebrews. Pray for me…LOL!!!

      • Rick Ro. says:

        *interested* not *interesting*. I’m sure you are all *interesting* to hear!

      • Go for it, Rick! Kids are capable of much more depth than our culture asks of them.

        • I’m only now beginning to sense that kids can handle the depth, and that’s why I’m putting away the curriculum and going by the Spirit. One of my helpers feels the same way, so we’re jumping into this together! Hebrews might be a challenge, but I’m leading an adult class through it and I feel like God will provide the insights needed to share with the kids.

      • Hebrews to elementary? Grab that bull by the horns! That is a challenge, to be sure, but well worth the effort. Let us know how it goes!

        • I’ll let you know. Right now I plan on telling the kids about some of the Old Testament aspects mentioned in Hebrews and then trying to convey how Jesus is better than all those things. I’m hoping to have the kids create a booklet to show their parents, with each page representing those things. For instance, the first page would be “Jesus – Better than the Prophets”…maybe have the kids try to draw a picture of a prophet proclaiming God and a picture of Jesus “as the exact representation” of the Father. Let the kids use their own imagination on how they would portray that. (I have my own idea that I’ll share with them.)

      • I once did a study for 5th and 6th grade girls on the book of Revelation– without charts and timelines, but an emphasis on OT scriptures being used in the book. It was a study they asked for.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I’m not under 35 but my teenagers are and I’ve been surprised and blessed that our recent move to a more traditional church has meant they WANT to go.

    • My two sons, aged 13 and 15 (I’m not *much* past 35!) love our traditional Anglican church. Our Parish is full of young kids, teenagers and young adults, largely due to our choir.
      We have a strong choir, with 20 people on an average Sunday, aged 6 to 60+. They sing four-part harmony, sometimes in German or Latin. The kids love it, some of them leaving the more contemporary church of their parents to sing traditional hymns with us.
      As a result, we also have strong Sunday School and youth programs (though one may ask which comes first…).
      Kids respond wonderfully to the tactile, multi-sensory experience of traditional churches. Let’s not sell them short by continuing to feed them theological baby food when they are ready to move onto something much more substantial, symbolic and sustaining.

    • ThisTooShallBeMadeRight says:

      23, serving in China as an English teacher, wishing there were more old-fogeys around these parts to mentor me in a language I can speak.

    • I am 19 and have spent my entire life in Church. By 16 I hated my youth group, I left it and just sat in service with my parents. When I moved away form home for school I attended a sister Church to the one I grew up in but found that I enjoyed and lean towards the more conservative Churches, I love to sing old hymns that speak of the glory of God and sometimes in modern churches I feel like we lean away from those and just focus on what we have gained, and not as much on what Christ had done.

  5. I was just doing some thinking about culture myself. I’ve been watching the “Vikings” series on History Channel and I am impressed, and even envious, of just how embedded religious beliefs are in the cultures of the Vikings and the English. Their beliefs formed how they view reality and affected their actions. This leads to the Vikings desire to raid with the hopes that they will die in battle and make it to Valhalla. This also leads to the English to be far less confrontational than the Vikings are because they do share the same understanding of the after life as the Vikings do.

    I think Grandpa’s church is far better at embedding you in a culture that will give you a place in the world and the story of humanity, like the old cultures of the Vikings and the English did, than the “young whipper-snapper” church is.

    • Josh in FW says:

      I’m loving the “Vikings”. It’s the best thing I’ve seen on TV in some time.

      • Despite the violence, the most recent episode of this show spoke of sacrament and sacrifice. The rotating pan of the sacrificed victim dripping blood made me think Christ on the Cross…..

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        “So, how do you ‘Christians’ deal with these questions?”

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    But I want a church where I know and feel that the adults are in charge, where wisdom trumps enthusiasm, where historical perspective is considered, where depth is valued as much as breadth, where stories have shaped us for generations.

    Since “adult” these days means either porn or incontinence, perhaps “Grown-Ups are in charge” would be a better choice of words.

    • how about “emotionally mature people”?

      That’s what I think “adult” means in this context…

    • Hey if you’re the 42nd President, a member of the SBC, than adult can also include to use cigars! :-P Maybe Bill Clinton was a precursor to Mark Driscoll.

      • Eagle, you know I really appreciate your comments at TWW and here, but I’m asking you kindly – could you please give this “cigar” thing a rest?

        We all know about Clinton and Lewinsky; am not sure that I see a point in reminding everyone about it here. I mean, how is it related to the thread?

  7. I kind of understand this and agree with it to a point….but not all the way. Yes, I feel largely irrelevant in our youth-oriented church. And I’m only 45. It will probably get worse. But if I flee for ‘grown up’ church then really how does my church EVER have the hope of becoming multi-generational? If everyone slots themselves into the ‘traditional service’ once they reach a certain age who stays with the younger folk to be an example of what it means to have an adult faith? (Not that I’m exactly there either.)

    Although I’ll admit I have it easier because I think we do have a good blend of liturgy and lights, chalk art and church year, new and old. But I still think that sometimes what is missing in the conversation is the question ‘where does God want me?’ not ‘what satisfies my aesthetic desires?’ And I think that is question that we all need to ask, no matter whether our aesthetic is hipster or high church.

    • I hope you didn’t get from the post that this is purely an aesthetic choice. The most important part, really, is about grown-ups being in charge, which to my mind means the church has wise and seasoned spiritual leadership and the congregation is humble enough to want that above enthusiasm.

      • I get what you are saying, but I think there is something in the way it is presented that makes it appear you are saying both…wise spiritual leadership is important AND that grown-ups being in charge will equal a church that looks more like the traditional church.

        • Chaplain Mike makes the distinction between “tradition” or “traditional” and “traditionalISM”. The first two have to do with embracing an historic way of worshipping and being church that goes back to the church’s earliest days because that way is authentic and can still speak to people – it is dynamic, not static; the latter is simply clinging to (often local) customs for their own sake, which in most cases go back no more than 50 years anyway. I’d add “misogyny” to the list in the third paragraph. And I know some non-hipsters who preach from iPads for environment reasons. But, thanks for a very good article, Chaplain Mike.

  8. I understand the attraction of youth and enthusiasm and energy. We need young leaders too, but let them be those who have older mentors to guide them and recommend them, not brash entrepreneurs who come with all the answers and stake out territory on their own.

    Brilliant. Multi-generational or bust, I say!

    • As a fraternity brother of mine who is also a PCA pastor once said, you need babies and old people.

      • I’d say that you need all age ranges.

        You left out middle-aged folks, though I doubt that was intentional! :)

  9. David Cornwell says:

    Almost every time I go to my church I come home with some complaints about which I normally try to remain silent. I won’t go on about them because they are the same kinds of things we all gripe about from time to time. But every time I go I also come home with a quiet satisfaction knowing that this is a church with strong roots which have withstood the tests of time and trial. It is one of the old churches downtown in a mid-size Midwest American city. It was started in the in 1871 when it was illuminated with oil lamps and heated with wood furnace.

    We regularly celebrate the birthday of members who are 100 or over and several of which have never attended another church. But we also have the young with us, children, youthful parents, and teenagers. We have a shared intimacy that I’ve seldom experienced in church life.

    We have a sanctuary which is well tended and beautiful. Worship follows an easy traditional liturgical style.

    We have a few members who embrace a worrisome universalism, others who have escaped a bullying fundamentalism, and those who could easily still be at home within a traditional evangelicalism.

    Sometimes I worry about our theology and whether or not we really have it together. We make no attempt to dot all the i’s. or cross each and every t. But on Easter Sunday I heard one of the finest sermons I’ve heard about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It spoke to our doubts and to our assurances, what it meant to the little band of followers, and what it means or can mean to us today. On one occasion N. T. Wright was alluded to for illustration.

    When I come back home I realize once more that God is with us.

    • David, I’ve been wondering if you were well or not. I don’t think I’ve seen you here for a while. Glad to read your words again.

      • I echo Ted — good to see you here again, Bro. David.

      • Ditto!

      • David Cornwell says:

        Ted, Trevis, Damaris, thank you very much. I was just taking a little break. I felt I was getting a little grouchy in some of my replies at times and really don’t like being like that.

        • Josh in FW says:

          Sometimes you say good stuff in the midst of grumpiness.

          Thanks for the thoughtful comment above. I too have missed your input.

  10. Most people here probably wouldn’t have liked my grandpa’s church. He was old-time Pentecostal preacher, and he had no time for things like the creed or other stuff that smacked of Catholicism.

    Actually, I find the term “not your grandpa’s church” to be kind of funny. Given that Rick Warren is old enough to be people who are now young adults, people probably need to come up with a new slogan. Not your great-grandpa’s church?

    • I wonder what it will be like decades from now when people are looking back and longing for the “traditional” megachurch?

      “I wish you could have had Mark Driscoll as your pastor, kids. Now there was a solid, traditional man of God! And remember those marvelous songs we used to sing? What was that one — oh you remember, ‘Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss…’ — now that was when songs had substance! And do you remember our sanctuary? That’s what first instilled the child-like wonder in me — the stage lights, the monitors, the plexiglass pulpit, the projection screens. Did we take communion there? I forget.”

      “Daddy?”

      “Yes, son.”

      “What’s communion?”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Actually, I find the term “not your grandpa’s church” to be kind of funny.

      Is “Not Your Grandpa’s Church” anything like “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile”?

  11. Robert F says:

    On this blog I’ve heard again and again that evangelicalism has failed, that it is starting to bleed, and that it can’t last because of its deficiencies; yesterday, standing in line at the supermarket, the cover of I believe Time Magazine declared that there is a New Reformation in Latin America, and that it’s being spearheaded by evangelical/charismatic churches, which are growing exponentially there. These churches, from what I can tell, are exactly the kind of churches that are almost being eulogized on this blog; they are not your daddy’s church. Is the consensus held on this blog only applicable to the developed world, the Global North, and not to the Two Thirds World, the Global South? Because from everything I read, this new kind of church model is thriving worldwide, growing almost uncontrollably, and will be here for a long time, and with large numbers.

    • That’s an excellent point, Robert, and essential for getting the big picture. We will have to have that discussion in the future. This was more of a personal meditation from my vantage point.

      • An awful lot of the evangelical/charismatic growth in Latin America – and in Africa – is related to either prosperity-gospel type churches or else Third Wave/dominionism/New Apostolic Reformation.

        The latter give me the cold chills – been there, done that.

        the former: well, what have they to do with Jesus? I know that there are a ton of “prosperity” churches in Brazil – there’s a huge gape between rich and poor (and poor and middle-class, for that matter) there, and the prosperity-type churches go after those who have very little. Ditto for the churches in West Africa that are doing the same – there was a New York Times magazine article several years back about the inroads that one particular prosperity sect from Nigeria is making in the US, and frankly, that was quite alarming!

        • They must be doing well….the Nigerian Bank Officer for one of the churches wants me to help him get two million dollars out of his country, If I can only send a small fee for the transfer……..

          • Robert F says:

            I know very little about the profile(s) of the kinds of churches that are growing in the Two Thirds World, aside from their charismatic/evangelical church model approach. Perhaps there is nothing but negative things to say about them, though I find that hard to believe. If the criticisms are the truest things about them, then that is very worrisome, because institutional Christianity is very much in decline here in the developed Global North. If evangelical churches here in Europe and North America (Australia, New Zealand) are starting to bleed out their vitality, I tend to think that it’s for many of the same reasons that the mainline denominations have been in decline for a very long time, and that it’s really just an expansion of that decline. So it would be a very sad thing if the place where the religion called Christianity shows vitality at the grass roots in terms of numbers and organizational liveliness, that is the Two Thirds World, is a place where the forms of Christianity taking hold are in fact mostly not faithful to the the reality of Jesus Christ. That would be very sad indeed.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          An awful lot of the evangelical/charismatic growth in Latin America – and in Africa – is related to either prosperity-gospel type churches or else Third Wave/dominionism/New Apostolic Reformation.

          In other words, copying what evangelicals/charismatics did here in the States some 30 years ago and making all the same mistakes.

    • The international perspective is indeed fascinating, Robert. Unquestionably, the Christianity of what we now call the Third World will dominate the conversation as the centuries roll on, if we have ears to hear.. But I think what’s different about Latin America is that (of course) these fresh new strains of Christianity stand in contrast to RC, whereas in the US, they stand — or at least originally stood — in contrast to WASPendom. Similarly, in most of Africa, they stand in contrast to animism, and are experiencing growing pains not at all unlike what my (your?) European forbears dealt with a millennium or more ago as pagan elements gradually were eliminated or assimilated.

      However, given globalization’s reach and our common humanity, I suspect that most of the issues that plague us here in the US will become pertinent to these traditions overseas eventually.. Prosperity preachers in Nairobi will sooner or later seem faddish, and Brazillian Pentecostals will at some point wonder how well a revivalistic tradition can address the long haul of life. It will be interesting to see it play out.

  12. Grandpa churches are fine with me as long as they remain true to scripture.Young people will go where they feel God is speaking to them.

  13. I’m still wading through the water of church life as I take a breath and slowly wade in. Its been a terrifying experience as I want it to work out yet privately I have my doubts. I went to a meet and greet for new attenders and I heard the pastor talk about the importance of small groups for accountability. When I hear that word – accountability I freeze and think of what it has meant in the past, meaning a way to control someone. I see pluses and minuses in both in a grandfather church and a young church. What I don’t get is why many places lack love and grace. I don’t want grace to be a myth, I want it to be vibrant, loving, and what drives it. Yet it seems as if evangelicals really have a problem with grace. I don’t know I want this to be positive….I really do.

    • Indeed, we fall from grace far too often, don’t we…

    • Eagle – take all the time you need, and if you see the same old same old that you encountered in other (abusive) settings, don’t get involved.

      I know you don’t want to be part of a liturgical church, but honestly, there are good ones out there that might be more in your line than many evangelical churches these days. (Thinking of the D.C. area alone…)

  14. Wasn’t it the mainline Missouri Synod Lutheran Church which coined the phrase, “This is not your grandfather’s church”? (Specifically, it came from the lips of former president Gerald Kieschnick). From personal experience, mainline churches are not necessarily safe harbors from trendy, hipster, big-box evangelicalism.

  15. All well and good, yes and amen, but now the hard part:

    How do you find one of these churches?? And perhaps more importantly…

    Is it worth going to one of these churches if you are guaranteed to find mostly Grandpa’s generation and no eligible singles our age? (Yes, I’m a guy, and young, and this sorta dictates some things)

    I’m also sick to death of the circus, and I’ve only really been in it for a few years. Sick to death of Driscoll and Bell and Young and the rest (which I’m sure will surprise Eagle, who was reading my blog a few years back). Where do I find this type of church and it’s not entirely full of grandparents?!? (as great as they are)

    • To clarify, at this point in life, I have little to no faith that God will provide (pick an area). God seems to provide to those who earn/work for it, which is really just turning around and calling the fruit of your own labor “God’s blessing you didn’t work for”. But that’s a different issue.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Strangely, I just learned that an acquaintance has been “working hard” for God and finding little to no indication God is with him. He’s getting P.O.-ed at God, getting disappointed with God, feels the enemy might actually be more powerful than God because his work isn’t getting him any of God’s blessings and promises. I want to tell him “you’re working too hard,” but what happens if God doesn’t respond to that, either? Tough issue.

        • What promises?? I find lots of words about suffering and rejection, nothing about health and money…..

        • I have been through a Season in my life very similar as your friend. It was when I followed God the most that I felt most abandoned, where people mercilessly took advantage of me because of my beliefs and where blessings and prosperity would never reach me. Somehow I made it through that and things are going much better, life is easier but I had been so blessed lately spiritually that it seems like the darkness was all worth it. It was necessary, it was where God was close even if I felt very angry at Him as I was going through it.

    • This weekend, my son is joining the church I’m attending. He’s 25 and our church has quite a healthy number of young adults and young families. Of course, it is near a college campus and also in an area of the city where many young people congregate. Location can help.

  16. Emerging Human says:

    You must be talking about Lutheran, Methodist, and Presby churches. My grandfather’s church is pastored by a screaming patriarchal racist who believes all the nonsense: KJV-only, YEC, Obama is the antiChrist. Two of my cousins were raised there. One committed suicide 15 years ago, the other is on disability, essentially a drugged-up vegetable diagnosed with all the modern pathologies — PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, about 18 other things. The local big box church plays what they think is rock music, the pastor is younger and wears jeans, but the fundamentalist right-wing nonsense still dominates. Welcome to north Georgia. Even the PCUSA church here is that way.

    • Think there are more Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic Churches in North Georgia than you know…but you do have to go look for them. They tend to be so conservative that they are counter-cultural!

    • “My grandfather’s church is pastored by a screaming patriarchal racist who believes all the nonsense: KJV-only, YEC, Obama is the antiChrist.”

      So he’s right on at least two points then: YEC, and Obama is the antiChrist. :)

  17. I have long thought that an “attractional” model is a wrong-headed approach. Isn’t the job of mature believers to be “instructional?” In other words, shouldn’t a church be more focused on *teaching* young people what church should look like, rather than chasing after them with what they think that young people think church should look like?

    It’s ok to teach an immature person what they ought to want.

  18. Give me a group of believers who’s priority is being the church together 7 days a week in our neighborhoods and workplaces in order to make disciples for the glory of God. Then Sunday becomes a glorious time of sharing, celebration, and worship regardless of the environmental trappings. We don’t just go to church. We are the church.

  19. Adrian Z says:

    I admit this is just me but I love it when I see someone leading the worship/praise/music who has grey hair or is at least over 35. Not that it guarantees a long walk with Jesus but I am over young ‘pretty boy’ types (yes a big generalisation and judgement I know) rockin out the band. Ok maybe off topic a bit but I am looking for those who have gone before me, and done the hard yards. Never went to my grand fathers church but that’s who I want to imagine would have been there

  20. This April 23 post (“Wanted: An Adult Faith in a Youth Culture”) is the most recent post that has come up since April 23 when I go to http://www.internetmonk.com. Is there something wrong with the site? Thanks.