Is there a generational gap in the church? Some younger people think that the church is trapped somewhere between Victorian England and “Little House on the Prairie.” Some older folks think the church is now under the conspiratorial control of the “artist formerly known as Prince.”
Neither point of view is true. The church is not being held back by stodgy doctrines of Fanny Crosby. Nor is it being hijacked by vagrant youth workers with tattoos. That is not to say that some congregations are not trapped in the past or mesmerized by the trendy.
The ability to change or not change does not fall neatly into generational categories. I’ve had 95-year-old women pump my hand and greet me with, “I just love your magazine. It gets me to thinking, and I like that.” And I’ve had 30-year-olds afraid to shake my hand for fear that the mark of the beast might transfer.
It’s time for us to quit drawing the lines and choosing up sides around the question of who is open to change and who is not. As I survey the territory of the church, I see where the real division exists. There are those who are hungry for God to come with transforming power and those who aren’t.
Those with an insatiable appetite for seeing God’s transforming power have the ability to revere the past and still receive the future.
True change does not come through methods and strategies. It is not subject to our notions of relevance or irrelevance. It has nothing to do with attractiveness or appeal.
This is a condensed excerpt from a September 1997 editorial in Light & Life Magazine. The editorial also appears in “The Newton Editorials,” a 2011 book published by Light & Life Communications.
Go to fmchr.ch/newtonedit to order “The Newton Editorials.”