The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXVII
As a child in the mid-20th century, I went to church Sunday morning, came home to a big meal, then naps or rest, then returned to church later that evening for another service. Wednesdays featured “mid-week” services also in the evening. Thursday was choir practice, and Friday or Saturday was Youth Night. Five times a week I was “at church”. My church experience became the hub of my social life as well as my moral and spiritual life.
Today the “minivan/SUV mom” transports kids to sport’s practices, dance, karate, or gymnastic instructions, private tutoring sessions or lessons all to enhance their children, to give them experiences, all in an effort to help them succeed and have a fulfilled childhood. Instead of spending time together at home or at church, time is spent in the minivan/SUV traveling, thus the need for electronic gismos to pass one’s time in one’s vehicles rather than socializing. School activities, sports, dances, and clubs have replaced church commitments. “Traveling teams” go to various cities all over the country, competing on Sundays, attracting youth even further away from church commitments. Church is no longer the hub of social, cultural, moral, and spiritual activities, but a place to go “conveniently” some time on the weekend where it best fits one’s schedule in the midst of multitude of activities.
The Jewish faith, Muslim faith, and Catholicism still emphasis formal religious training, but I see other forms of Christianity allowing their influence of training to slip through their fingers. I have heard the argument that religious training should be centered in the home, not church activities, yet the home is now an abandoned abode to business, attributing to producing dysfunctional family. We also look for quick fix solutions than taking the time to develop patterns and habits to create solutions in the proper time consuming way.
I look at many of my childhood religious activities as business, yet they did have a strong positive influence on my moral character. Today, I see adults being drawn to churches with strong children and youth ministries, just as they are drawn to strong sports and activity programs for their children, rather than drawn to a church that will require time spent to develop moral character, a Biblical foundation, and a development toward making an individual mature in Christ-likeness.
Developing is a process, and if the Church is to birth, care, nurture, and develop a person physically, psychologically, morally, and spiritually into the “knowledge of the Son of God” attaining the maturity of the “fullness of Christ”, it will take time. It will have to be the center focus of their endeavors, their day, and their calendar. If the goal of the Church is to “prepare” the saints for the “work of the service”, teaching them the “knowledge of the Son of God” while developing them toward maturity in “the fullness of Christ”, it will take a refocusing of our individual lives, and the retooling of the Church as a whole to reach that goal. Individually, we will have to recommit to a Christ centered life of development, nurture, and care. Our social calendar will have to change. Corporately, we, the Church, have to commit to retooling, rethinking, and reevaluating what our purpose is as a Church and how to strive toward that goal. If it is to “prepare the saints for the work of the service”, then a major overhaul is needed institutionally and individually. Our lives and our calendars will have to drastically change. The changing of our calendars and the refocusing of our priorities are two of the biggest challenges facing Americans in the 21st Century as individuals and as a corporate body called the Church.