Friday, August 21, 2009

Pre-occupation with Youth - Desperate Church Life

What is up with this pre-occupation and paranoia about youth?

I am sure me asking this sounds dumb, the answer should be obvious. I just have to look and I should see that the youth is absent in the churches. This came up in my mind when I attended the our community interchurch council meeting. The subject of the annual fund raising dinner came up and one the ministers from a non-denominational non-confessional background brought the subject if young people ever come to the fund raising dinner. Not really, they don't turn up.

So first, he suggested the idea of volunteering his church's band. Good, give them one of those monotonous, "me, me, I love you Jesus, I burn for you" music. That should attract them. Then one of the Baptist pastors said he has a missionary from Uganda and he could do the talk. Then the non-denom pastor added, is there someone who could also stand up comedy, do them jokes stuff? That should really get the young people interested in coming to the dinner no?

Finally, in my usual stupid way - I said, well why you are it, may be you might as well get a magician, no? He said his wife can do that, she is able to make his money disappear, I said - we should get her.

Oh yes, the youth in some big churches are coming, but in the end, where are they going?

I mean are churches going down to the gutter on this, are they that desperate that by hook or by crook we should give whatever it takes to get the young people in? Really now, if what they need is a circus, should we be willing to give that to them, so long as they can get in to church?

Sure enough, non-denom folks are notorious for not trusting the means of grace, I guess they are like that because though they do believe in some means, they do not believe in the ones where God has promised to work.





25 comments:

takingthoughtscaptive said...

"Sure enough, non-denom folks are notorious for not trusting the means of grace, I guess they are like that because though they do believe in some means, they do not believe in the ones where God has promised to work."

You really nailed the heart of the matter right there, L.P. All Christians trust in some means, recognizing that God works through them. The crucial question to ask is, "In which means do we trust?" Do we trust in those established by God, where "God has promised to work," or do we trust in those means established by the whim of man, which contain no such promises?

Fantastic insight...as usual! Thanks!

T.C.

Steve Martin said...

L.P.C.,

Right!

We are making ourselves over into something we are not...for what?

We are supposed to be counter-cultural, for Heavens sake!

Check out the ridulous stage show that the ELCA put on for their youth. (there is a youtube on my blog)

Disgusting.

L P said...

T.C.

Thanks bro.

I observe too that the non-denoms are also into "service unites, doctrine divides" thing.

No wonder, there is chaos in evangelia.

LPC

L P said...

SM,

Yeah, they are corny.

LPC

Dawn K said...

They are trying to jump through every hoop possible to attract the youth. But someone once said, "What you win them with is what you win them to". Are those who are willing to do anything in the name of "outreach" and "mission" really leading people to the church or a cheap imitation of the church (albeit dressed up in clever marketing)?

I think you are right, L.P. - this is a lack of confidence in the means of grace. And a lack of confidence in the Word in general. So many people just think of Scripture as mere information to be acted upon by human free will, rather than the very words of God that have the power to accomplish what He wills. If the message in and of itself has no inherent power, then of course it would make sense for people to feel the need to dress it up according to whatever cultural winds are blowing.

joel in ga said...

Given the penchant for frothy contemporary worship in many Lutheran churches, along with an absence of weekly Communion, I wonder how many Lutheran pastors do not trust the means of grace, either.

L P said...

DK/Joel.

When I was circling around AOG pastors here, back in my pietistic past, the name of the game is expediency.

They will try whatever it takes to get the crowd and mine you this is the indicator if the pastor is going to have a good day or bad. When the numbers are up, he is in ecstacy, when down, despair.

LPC

Dawn K said...

"When the numbers are up, he is in ecstacy, when down, despair."

This is nothing but a corporate mindset that has worked itself into the church. For a corporation, numbers and the bottom line are indeed everything.

But it is not so with the church.

Dr. Laurence White on Issues, Etc. a few weeks ago (August 5th) said it best: "We're not called by God to be successful, we're called by God to be faithful."

(Here's the whole soundbite, if you're interested.)

L P said...

DK,

True. By Pentecostal/Baptist standards, the prophet Jeremiah was a failure.

He did not have that many converts so by this count he was a failure.

It is indeed corporate mentality and it is horrible that the church is dancing to secular music.

LPC

M. A. Henderson said...

Lito,
I've posted something related on my blog. You and your readers might like it.

L P said...

Pr. M.

I love it!

I think we should continue the discussion on this, Ferguson is correct by my experience.

When I was working for a big IT company (I mean big, it is a household name), they purposely wanted to come up with a product which would sell to a target market whose age range from 15-30. In effect, young people.

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

Lito,

I think it's brilliant, although his attack on the Jonas Bros at the end is a bit of a cheap shot imo - is it connected to their open espousal of chastity? My 9 y.o. daughter loves them and I don't have a problem with that. But yes, still very funny.

It's a well-known strategy in advertising/marketing to target youth,as your experience indicates. The cigarette companies were the most amoral exploiters of it - "get them young and get them for life". And how many of us don't have a soft spot for brands associated with our childhood or youth? But as Ferguson says, it has all been turned around in a perverse way.

But when you translate it to the church - not so funny! Not that I'm against addressing youth in particular ways in church life, but when everything comes to be measured by how it relates to youth, we have clearly lost our bearings.
My thinking is along the lines of: the church needs to offer youth an alternative to the corrupt culture around them, not as a primary mission, but as a spin-off of preaching the Gospel and catechising them in the faith.

L P said...

Pr. M.

I agree too, we need to address the young people but in a way that is using the means of grace - the Word, in catechising.

What gets people in, keeps them in. So if we use entertainment to get them in, we will have to have more elaborate more potent entertainment to keep them in, and this keeps them going, but it goes nowhere. In fact they may eventually be turned off from Christianity in the end.

LPC

Dawn K said...

Here's a "relevant" quote from Arthur Just regarding liturgy and culture.

matthias said...

Actually you are wrong about saying Jeremiah failed according to at least Baptists standards,or Churhc of Christ for that. Where i grew up,in the Churches of Christ,the role of jeremiah was held up as to hw we should be to the surrounding culture. Acting as watchmen/women ,warning of the judgement of God . As for pentecostals,his role surely does not conform to the Prosperity Gospel. We do not see Brian houston of Hillsong dressing in sackcloth and ashes or of offending politicians.
There have been some really good sermons on Jeremiah by Non-conformist pastors. Trouble is they have gone to the Eternal Home and probably left them in some closed up place

L P said...

Matthias,

Well when the Law/Gospel paradigm is not know, it seems that anyone can make the prophets be what they want to be. The message of Jeremiah is CHrist. It is not about him being this or that. To see where Jesus is in the prophets is to (follow Luther), be taught by the HS.

I remember a JW guy who said to me that they are like Noah in the ark, they may not be happy serving God because like Noah, he surely would not been very comfortable being around those pooh and smelly animals.

When it is about what you do, then it is not about Jesus for you. The two cannot be reconciled.


LPC

L P said...

Matthias,

Well when the Law/Gospel paradigm is not know, it seems that anyone can make the prophets be what they want to be. The message of Jeremiah is CHrist. It is not about him being this or that. To see where Jesus is in the prophets is to (follow Luther), be taught by the HS.

I remember a JW guy who said to me that they are like Noah in the ark, they may not be happy serving God because like Noah, he surely would not been very comfortable being around those pooh and smelly animals.

When it is about what you do, then it is not about Jesus for you. The two cannot be reconciled.


LPC

L P said...

DK,

The first part of Arthur Just's is the issue,

Is the Liturgy (historically or classically practiced) not a cultural expression as well? That is the question.

For example, the portion of "Lamb of God" is scripturally based but it was an 8th century addition. In other words, the form of the liturgy did not drop out of the sky, unless we be like the EO who believe that the Liturgy in its form is inspired.


I believe what supports the Liturgy is the catechesis.

Lutheran churches who go Pop, I believe have neglected the catechesis or they do not believe in the efficacy of the Word

It is the Word that transcends culture. In so far as a Liturgy is based on the Word it transcends culture.

I was an RC kid till I was 23 and I was trained in the Latin Mass. I got no gospel there.

LPC

Dawn K said...

L.P.,

I would absolutely agree with you that the liturgy is not something that dropped out of the sky. The liturgy is something that has developed over hundreds and hundreds of years. But it's for this reason I'm not so sure that we can just call it "another cultural expression" - at this point it's more a culture of its own, and has been for a long time. I don't think it's quite accurate to say that the liturgy is an expression of a certain culture like "contemporary" services are an expression of popular Western suburbanite culture.

You said:
"I believe what supports the Liturgy is the catechesis.

"Lutheran churches who go Pop, I believe have neglected the catechesis or they do not believe in the efficacy of the Word."

Yes, exactly. Our worship reflects what we believe. I think the liturgy is a much better expression of what Lutherans believe than "pop church."

"It is the Word that transcends culture. In so far as a Liturgy is based on the Word it transcends culture.

"I was an RC kid till I was 23 and I was trained in the Latin Mass. I got no gospel there."

The liturgy is something that grew out of the Word. But just like anything else that fallen, sinful human beings get their hands on, various forms of corruption entered in, as with Rome. I'm not at all suggesting that liturgy is foolproof - not at all. I just think that liturgy better supports sound teaching and catechesis than "pop church" does. In my view "pop church" by its very nature undermines catechesis.

L P said...

DK,

Yes, exactly. Our worship reflects what we believe. I think the liturgy is a much better expression of what Lutherans believe than "pop church."

Absolutely, spot on! I too agree with you on this. I believe our liturgy is very useful. When catechesis is at the forefront of the church, when JBFA is breathed and is the focus of the church, even the young people will appreciate why we do things the way we do.

When JBFA is understood, they will understand why we use the Liturgy.

The reverse is not true. I have sat with lifelong Lutherans who are steep in to the Liturgy and when asked how they are saved, they reply, by being a good person. One of the things (to them anyway) that makes a person good, is by following the Liturgy (i.e., it used as a form of works).

Pop churches are not concern with doctrine. Likewise, liberal churches who are liturgical are the same, i.e. not really concern with doctrine, but with tradition and form.

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

The liturgy did not fall from heaven:
"...one can today hear theologians who say that there is a form of the divine service that belongs to the essence of the church, even that Gregorian chant belongs essentially to the Christian liturgy. It is high time that the liturgical movement in the Lutheran church wakes up from its romantic dreams and subordinates itself to the norms to which the whole life of the church must be subject: the norma normans of Holy Scripture and the norma normata of the church’s confession. And this applies to all the Lutheran churches in the world, for the Scandinavian, in which the Anglican influence is so great, and for the American, in which the ideas of the European liturgical movement have now gained a footing. If this serious reflection does not take place, then the liturgical movement will become what it has become already for many of its adherents: the end of Lutheranism and the road to Rome.”
Hermann Sasse

L P said...

Sasse is truly one of us!

He can be said one of our Aussie Lutheran fathers, no?

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

Indeed he is!
(Btw, to his great regret, one of his sons who was studying for the Lutheran ministry swam the Tiber)

...and I recently posted something from Luther on the (Latin) Mass over at "Glosses...", partly in response to all the positive comments in Lutheran blogdom on Benedict's re-introduction of the Latin Mass.

MH

Dawn K said...

It's all about catechesis and teaching. If people are not taught why things are done the way they are done in the liturgy, then it seems to either 1) degenerate into a mindless ritual or a work that we offer to God, 2) become all about tradition for tradition's sake and not because it actually means anything, or 3) leads to the ditching of the liturgy altogether in favor of a more "meaningful" or "uplifting" contemporary praise service. Options 1 and 2 may or may not themselves lead to option 3.

Regarding the Latin mass, it seems to me like any Lutheran who thinks that is a positive thing is just reacting against pop-culture-style worship. Conducting a service in a language that very few (if any) can understand is not particularly conducive to the people understanding what is going on and why. Tradition for its own sake is not the goal. One can be so focused on "reverence" and "mystery" that they miss the point that the service is primarily for the people's benefit, not for God's.

Acroamaticus said...

Dawn,
Precisely!