Drives My Generation of Christians NUTS!
“Where do we get the term ‘saved’ from?”
“Who invented the 4 Spiritual Laws handed out on tracts?”
“Where did the “sinner’s prayer come from? Jesus never used it?”
“Am I not to tithe unto the Lord? How is that tied into financing the church as an institution?
How dare the “twenty-teeners” ask such bold questions that seem to be at the essence of the 20th Century Church’s thrust on evangelism. Millions have been “saved” using the “sinner’s prayer”. How dare they question its validity to our church’s cultural tradition. I do remember when my children were smaller they asked a thousand questions which I thought was a positive experience because they were inquisitive. One of the first inquisitive words they learned was “why”, not to justify what was being done, but to know how things worked, the rationale behind it all. Why should I be shocked now when they ask such pertinent questions?
Questioning can be good; it part of the “twenty-teener” make up. My generation of church leaders have become critical of Rob Bell because of his approach to questioning. He just wrote a book about heaven and hell, and how his generation is questioning it from the standpoint of the Lord’s prayer of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do we experience a little of heaven and hell already on earth? Rob’s questioning in this generations exploration of finding Biblical truth to their generation as C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce was to my generation. I think there is a lot of common ground, but we are looking at it from generationally different points of view, thus questions. It amazes me that Jesus did not use the lecture, alias sermon, approach when teaching as my generation does, but he is forever asking questions and speaking through parables, much of which this new generation is doing. Could their approach to teaching be more Jesus centered than our way of teaching? Hmmmm…..
As a “church kid” it was hard for me to understand what “saved” meant because I had tried to live a righteous life under the church norms that I was taught by my parent’s generations. I once wished I had been a junkie, a drug addict, been a pimp of a prostitution ring just so I had a good testimony of being “saved” from something drastic. I thought being “saved” was turning from an old life through repentance and moving on in a new life, but found many of my friends returning to the altar to get “saved” again, or as they called it, “rededicating” their lives. I thought to be “saved” meant a new beginning…. Now, through asking questions, I too am beginning to examine of the meaning of terms I just took for granted, instructed never to question.
I’ve met the man who invented the 4 Spiritual Laws for Campus Crusade for Christ, who has gotten to the point of almost dispising them. Yes, he found an effective way of evangelistically sharing the gospel to his generation during his time, but “canning” his approach over decades has become redundant and ineffective most times. I still remember seeing a 60 yard long paper trail of tracts thrown on the ground as litter at the York Fair. “But if one was saved, it was all worth it,” was the evangelistic cry of denial of its true effectiveness.
As for the sinner’s prayer, it may be something more of my generation. I had no idea of its origins so I went to the entrusted source Wikipedia which attributes is full thrust to 19th & 20th century evangelists like Dwight L. Moody and Billy Graham as well as Campus Crusade while also contributes to its weaknesses as not being Biblically based nor at times said in sincerity. I, personally, never said the sinners prayer to get saved, but knew God was real while sitting in the sunshine in a chair in our living room. My parents, coming from their generational bias, wondered if I had been “saved” because I never went forward in an “evangelistic revival meeting” at their local church. I later discovered that John Wesley also “found” God as I had. The “twenty-teener’s” questions about the sinners prayer may be more valid than I want it to be.
My children don’t question the Biblical principle of tithing, but question tithing to “what”. In his ebook The Future is Now: How God Is Moving In The 21st Century, Kent R. Hunter of Churchdoctor.org fame says, “The flat world reflects the repulsion today’s young adults have for institutions that act institutionally. The key for understanding this is that if a church persists to be hierarchial, it will not attract young adults. This concept is reflected in the teaching of low-control/high-accountability. Most churches from the modern era have become extreme, with layers of bureaucracy, politics, bylaws, rules and regulations, titles, offices and all the trappings of institutionalism. This does not fit the relation world that now exists.” They want to tithe, to the kingdom of God, but not to an institution with all its entrappings of building, maintenance, management, staffing, programs, etc. They want to be relational, not heirarchial. Tithing to my generation usually supports a hierarchal system of pyramid professionalism.
So maybe all their inquisitive questioning is valid. At least it is forcing me to look at it from a different point of view. After a while all the questioning about drives my generation nuts. Hmmm, maybe they got us where they want us! LOL (as they would text)!