The Opening Doors to Discipleship organization asked our own Beth Hayes to reflect on a recent event she attended and its implications for the Christian Church.
I had the distinct privilege of being invited to a dialogue experience between well-known theologian Phyllis Tickle and pastors and educators about the role of the church in the future and how cultural change is affecting the traditional way of doing Christian Education and spiritual formation in the emergent church. Tickle challenged all of us to rethink church culture as we minister and respond to folks outside the church.
It is a known fact that many persons in the under-35-group no longer trust the church as the place to seek meaning and purpose in life. Persons today who haven’t been brought up in the church or who aren’t familiar with it are not convinced of the church’s value. Some who were raised in the church have become disaffected. The church is not necessarily people’s choice for finding meaning and purpose in life, which the decline in attendance makes very apparent. The questions are: How do we connect with these people? Where do we go to meet them? The conversations that will happen as we make these connections will broaden our world view of how younger folk find meaning and purpose in their lives. What can they teach us? What can they gain from us? How will the internal culture of the church need to change? It was a fascinating experience to deal with these questions, not only with Tickle but other pastors and educators.