I recently came across this article http://www.theblaze.com/stories/young-adults-are-abandoning-churches-in-record-numbers-is-this-the-solution/
The article is about the problem the church has been facing for quite some time now. In the article, it is explained that young people (20 somethings) are leaving the church in droves. This is no surprise, the research has showed that, and my personal experience has confirmed it. There is no doubt the church is losing many many young adults.
In an effort to “solve” this problem, the article goes on to say that in Charlotte N.C a group of 40 churches have been partnering together in an effort to “attract” young adults. While someone might say this is a good thing, and to an extent I would agree, the more you read the article the more you see exactly why this is a failed endeavor.
The most astonishing part of this article is the attitude behind “Charlotte One”. Let me give you this quote in the article
“Thus, the goal of Charlotte ONE is for denominations to come together in an effort to attract and hold young adults’ attention. While mainline and evangelical Protestant churches from various denominations would typically be trying to outdo one another to bring adherents into individual church doors, as Riley writes, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Ok let’s break this down. First, it is typical of Protestant churches trying to out do each other to bring adherents in to their own churches? Is that a joke? We are now competing for people, even though we are on the same team? That’s like Starbucks competing against another Starbucks. But this reflects the culture we live in doesn’t it? Here we are in a society that constantly competes for your money, time, and energy, and apparently the church (at least the ones mentioned here) are in the same boat, doing everything they can to get you in to their doors and no one else’s. It’s a shame, and it’s ridiculous to even think that churches are COMPETING against each other for people.
But that’s not even the worst part of this quote. By far the worst part of this quote is when we read “Desperate times call for desperate measures”. Are they saying that because of how desperate churches are due to the lack of young adults, this has now forced them to partner together? Really? This is a desperate measure? Working with other churches (you know, the ones that believe in the same Jesus you do) to reach young adults? Honestly, when I read this article, and this quote in particular I wanted to throw my computer. I couldn’t believe this is the way they see this situation “Well guys, times are tough, so I’ll guess we’ll have to start talking to other churches, desperate times, desperate measures”. It’s UNBELIEVABLE that this is the attitude behind it.
But all that aside, what is Charlotte One? What are they actually doing? Well according to the article here is an idea of what goes on
“So a group of evangelical and mainline Protestant leaders here decided to create one young adult ministry that would provide all of the bells and whistles required, without replacing church. Charlotte ONE does not perform baptisms, weddings, funerals or offer communion. It doesn’t meet on Sundays or have a single pastor in charge. Sermons are “bible-based” and generally evangelical in their outlook, but the leaders try to steer clear of controversial issues (religious and political) that might divide their sponsoring churches.”
Now you might think “well isn’t that a great idea” to which I say absolutely it is not! Why? Because it’s more of the SAME. They are taking the same format and just repackaging it with a “trendy” and “cool” attitude to “attract” young people. Apparently Jesus, and living in wholeness with Him just isn’t enough anymore. Apparently we need to “attract” young adults. The huge elephant in the room though, is that all this Charlotte One idea does is offer young adults more of the same things that turned them off in the first place. I don’t need another event to go to, I need people in my life intimately who are walking through life with Jesus and with each other.
See that’s the problem, people are so stuck in this model of church of church that they don’t even think “hey maybe we should make things smaller and more intimate”. Instead we default to “How can we make it as big as possible with the most bells and whistles to attract the most people”. The problem with this thinking is that not only is it currently being rejected by young adults, the idea of starting ANOTHER once a week event doesn’t take people deep enough. You can only go so far with 500 people once a week, but break them up in to 50 smaller groups that meet throughout the week, breaking bread, hanging out, pouring in to each other, keeping in touch during the week, and now you have intimacy. Now you have a place where people can be heard and be listened to. My friends, the church needs to get bigger in a very small way.
The irony of this all? Consider this quote from the article
“The group takes its motivation from Jesus’ words in John 17:23: “Let them be one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as much as you have loved me.”
Ironically this verse is only conveniently used when things get “desperate”. But this verse is not meant to be conveniently used. It is the heart of Christ, he desires us to be ONE, not competing for people in our own church doors, not competing with other churches for the newest technology. Isn’t that ridiculous? In a faith that encourages humility, sharing, peace, gentleness, and unity. We as a church are instead prideful, selfish, hostile to other churches, harsh, and divided. It’s time to start waking up and realizing that Christ is coming back for the Church (capitol C) and not the church (lowercase c). The Church is the bride of Christ, the church is the institution we’ve made of it. And for the record, there is nothing wrong with the idea of the institutionalized church. There is a problem however, when that institution starts eating it’s own for the sake of it’s own individual gain.