Church: The Change Within Part II

Imitation often makes things dull.

Modern churches have a challenge previous generations did not have. It regards how to deal with diversity. Racial diversity has come a long way. Many churches have several races represented and involved. Educational, economic, social, and cultural diversity have been dealt with constructively. A primary distinction that has become increasingly excluding in some churches is age. It not only involves persons of AARP age but those over or under 45 are crunched.

This is such an issue former dean of the Morehouse School of Religion has written a book entitled: “Our Help In Ages Past…”

In an age when younger people need to be under the influence of a warm family, some churches socially engineer services to remove the influence of the very people who have provided the place where they meet.

To some degree this has been caused by churches trying to meet the changing needs of society. Some older established churches have resorted to imitating certain role model churches. In doing so they have overlooked one major distinction. These role model churches have admirably emerged using their distinct methods which have worked in their culture which is often different for those seeking to imitate them. To use a non-Baptistic statement, “they are dancing with the one who brought them to the party.” These churches were developed using the methods that attracted their membership.

Some older established churches in trying to imitate them have in essence communicated to the older membership we don’t care if you leave the party. In changing the style that attracted the base membership they are eliminating the very things that attracted them. Thus, the older membership is marginalized or completely disenfranchised. What is even more alienating than what is being done is the cavalier way in which it is done. To be made to feel unwanted in ones own “home” is grievous.

This has resulted in many ostracized members not being angry but lonely. A frustration barrier has caused many to look for an atmosphere when they are wanted and feel spiritually comfortable. Their exodus from their beloved long standing home churches is painful. In doing so they have left long time friends and even family members. Many who remain behind experience this loveliness because they to have lost friends. For some the only thing causing them to remain is friendships.

Some older churches are meeting this diversity challenge in a way both groups feel comfortable. It can and is being done by some. The church in general has dealt commendably though not perfectly with the divisive issues of diversity mentioned herein. The people who lead in that cultural renewal are the very ones now being alienated. The wisdom shown and the spirit manifested by these experts in social change in making these changes is often not being enlisted in meeting the current challenge.

Piloting the old Ship of Zion in today’s troubled waters is a challenge. It is a day in which there needs to be ALL hands on deck. Fortunately it can and is being done by some. Sail on! Others having lost their GPS (Gospel Perspective Source) have resorted to being imitators rather than creators and are off course in their cultural sea.