My friend Shawn Galyen used to be our campus missionary for Georgetown and is now working with university students in Madrid. He sent me an email reaction to my blog “Ten Problems” (http://www.neueministry.com/2008/12/ten-problems/) and that I thought it worth publishing here.
Here’s what Shawn thinks…
Much of our “cutting edge” ideas are really just trying to target narrower and narrower groups (I am
called to reach left‐handed de‐churched third culture kids in the upper Midwest). Our creativity is
wasted in trying to give our 20‐25 singles a different “experience” … which invariably creates a
consumer mentality that we then have to keep up with… it begins early with special children stuff
and is high‐lighted in youth group completely separate from the rest of the church. Real creativity
would find ways to incorporate everyone into the main activities. There are times for separation but
surely we have gone too far and wasted too much to produce exactly what we are trying to resist…
consumer Christianity. (We in campus ministry may be some of the worst culprits)
I am glad that many churches are seeing a greater need for social justice issues. There is no excuse
for a Christian community to not be involved in this arena. But while I may agree with these ideas,
my view from the ground is that much of the “community service / missional talk” is not being
received the way the leader wishes it to be perceived. What I have heard in many churches is that
the old “evangelistic” church was just concerned with souls…that evangelicals haven’t reached their
communities felt needs. (By the way, the best research shows that evangelical Christians out‐give any other subculture in terms of money, time and volunteerism outside the church walls. We can do more but some of
the criticism of the old evangelical church is not accurate) There are unintended consequences to this
message. Among the younger generation who struggle with the idea of Jesus being the unique path
of salvation, it is easy to find an “out” here from actually engaging in traditional gospel sharing…
after all those on the cutting edge say “the church” needs to talk less and do more… “if necessary
use words”. My own experience has me worried that these comments filtered through the
“pluralist generation” will backfire tremendously. My students had no trouble believing we need to
help the poor, or save dafur… but getting them to believe and then tell another student that
repentance and surrender to Jesus was necessary… that was a hurdle. We are overcorrecting and
being mis‐heard and I fear we will lose the evangelist in evangelicalism.
3. Biblical Illiteracy:
May make me seem old fashioned… but after traveling in hundreds of churches over the last 10
years, I can count on two hands that amount of sermons that were expositional. When we read all
the statistics on how little people in the pew know about the actual words of Scripture, why can’t
we find a pastor who preaches through a book of the Bible or through a series of biblical
characters… in the era of story, why do we continue to preach topics and tips?
So, what do you think?