Younger seekers don’t need coffee bars and stage lights during Sunday morning services. Church leaders must offer creative encounters if they want Generation Z to believe what they are saying.
Can you keep their attention please? If would-be believers need caffeine and stage lights to keep them awake, then perhaps we should reevaluate what we are saying about Jesus.
People come to God for ultimate meaning — not for a well-produced show of worship. While art and iconography are a part of the church’s tradition and history, a carefully crafted aesthetic to suit a refined palette is not what the early Christians were going for.
The superficial expectations of the right color carpet or curtains will not bring a younger generation of would-be believers through the church’s doors. Ripped jeans and t-shirts are no longer trending, and we are forever grateful.
Jesus was always down to earth, but too many of today’s leaders, often celebrity-driven, struggle to keep their feet on the ground. Churches that offer nothing more than superficial expressions of belief and the appearance of connecting to a younger generation through fashion statements should count their days.
America’s Christian majority is shrinking, and for pastors who focus way too much on the numbers — budgets, bricks and butts in pews — this should come as no surprise.
The Raceless Gospel Initiative is a sight for sore eyes. It casts a vision of what’s next for those hurt by what they see happening in and through the church and its leadership.
It challenges the dominating narrative of white supremacy, calls Christians to create a world without “ruling relationships,” and aims to satisfy the appetite of those who expected something more transformative, more creative from their discipleship, fellowship and worship experiences.
Dissatisfied, I turned inward and to the writings of Howard Thurman who creates the spiritual conditions for which the believer encounters their Creator. “As a person, each of us lives a private life; there is a world within where for us the great issues of our lives are determined,” he writes in The Creative Encounter.
Thurman is keenly aware of my deepest longings and, more importantly, he is invested in this meaning-making work. Asking questions that get to the root of the issue and at the heart of his readers and what it means to believe, Thurman is on target.
I have been working through the idea of an aracial ecclesiology and a raceless gospel, which calls into question quite dramatically the role of the North American church in perpetuating segregation and offering theological support for this social division.
I have no interest in sitting in church for the sake of Sunday morning attendance. Instead, I create space to tend to my interior life and to address race and its progeny.
It is my calling, and I won’t stop questioning race until I have an answer that satisfies my faith in the new humanity that I claimed as a baptized believer.
I know that I am not alone in wrestling with the issues of our day and seeking a faith that helps me to understand them in revolutionary ways. The frustration is mutual and felt by so many Christians. It is evidence of a deep disappointment in a church that we expected so much more from.
We were promised heaven, but we want a glimpse of it here on earth. For those who are dissatisfied with what they see when they look at the church, put the coffee mug down and cover your eyes.
Your dissatisfaction is God-given, prophetic even. Keep speaking until the church offers you a creative response.