Does that headline make sense? If not, good. Mission accomplished. This is a must read from author Brett McCracken on the utter foolishness the contemporary church is engaging in to get sheeple in the door. The hip, in the now makeover of church and christianity (churchianity) is in full effect [source]:
‘How can we stop the oil gusher?” may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.
As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment.
Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.
Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.
Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.
Can you imagine Jesus saying to the 12 apostles, “hey after I leave I want you guys to give this thing an image overhaul. Make sure you delete any references to suffering, obedience, discipline, responsibility, accountability, and righteousness. And for Pete’s sake dont mention anything about faithfulness to my word! People will think we’re some sort of legalism obsessed cult!”
Well its almost as if that sentiment leads off the New Testament. McCracken blasts pastors and leaders for using every gimmick, trick, fad, techno-wizbang and buzzwords they possibly can in order to be seen as “attractive”. Oh and they add a generous helping of sex talk to be seen as real edgy. It reminds me of that emergent church foolishness that keeps trying to gain a foothold.
Why not just do what Jesus (the founder and head of the church) said do? Here’s a refresher course in case its been forgotten.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:16-20
But observers say the shindiggin aint workin. People with problems want real Godly solutions, not toys, games and funsy words. People are not pre-k children to be entertained into oblivion.
In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells writes:”The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.
“And the further irony,” he adds, “is that the younger generations who are less impressed by whiz-bang technology, who often see through what is slick and glitzy, and who have been on the receiving end of enough marketing to nauseate them, are as likely to walk away from these oh-so-relevant churches as to walk into them.”
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
This kind of stuff is only going to produce more false converts and fuel hostility at the church when they realize they’ve been sold a bag of tricks.