If you’ve followed this blog and its comments you noticed that the discussion turned errr… a little feisty yesterday. The heat centered on one commenter in particular whose comments tend to be critical of things I say. There are a couple like that, and I occasionally reply, but often do not.
Fellow commenters did.
Now it’s my turn.
When the Dow Jones removed Sears from its averages and substituted Home Depot, complaints were raised around the nation. Home Depot was a young company. It had not survived the ups and down of history as had Sears. Sears survived the Great Depression, World Wars, presidents, global events. Home Depot had no such track record.
To me, this is the parable of the EMERGING CHURCH. In the past, young church leaders in their 20’s and 30’s had no voice. Unless they were in spectacularly growing churches or doing some extraordinary ministry, the American church took little notice. Yes, these leaders were well known in their communities. Some were well known within their denominations nationally. Other than that, they were just young leaders doing what every generation of young leaders had done: doing their best in their corner of God’s Vineyard to make their mark for eternity.
The INTERNET changed all that.
Here are some of the changes:
- Young church leaders and theologians can have a VIRTUAL voice far beyond the scope of their ACTUAL ministries. (So can older church leaders too, but the leaders who’ve been commenting are from the emerging generation).
- Untested leaders–who have not led in times of war, conflict, depression, etc., –get to propound untested ideas that do not comport with the historic Christian faith and have thousands of readers. And they can receive congratulations from likeminded peers.
- Because of the relative anonymity of the internet, people feel a level of freedom in communication that has not been present in the past. The community of accountability isn’t there. If one blog or online community shuts you down, there are hundreds to choose from, and nothing is lost. In the past, if you were a jerk, or deceptive or unkind you lost real friends, and had to move across country to find new ones. You gained reputation in the community. Not any more. Just click a different link and find a whole new community. You can do that forever, and it doesn’t cost a penny.
- In the past, us young guys would go to pastor meetings with seasoned, battle-scarred veterans and keep our mouths shut and listen and learn. Yes… we had TONS OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE OLDER GENERATION. But we were remarkably civil and respectful in how and when and to whom we voiced them. That’s gone. Now we’re all peers. First year pastors or 28 year veterans. It’s part of the larger coarsening of our culture, and denigration of aging.
- Having said all that, I TRULY WANT TO HEAR WHAT THE YOUNGER GENERATION has to say. I would be saddened if they went away or stopped commenting. Why?
- Because I was them once and I knew it all too.
- And because what they say, hundreds of others think… AND I DON’T WANT TO BE THE GROUCHY OLD CHURCH GUY WHO TURNS THEM OFF TO JESUS, GOD OR CHURCH.
- And because I really want to reach a younger generation for Jesus, and it’s imperative that I listen carefully to what they are saying. Much I agree with. Much I don’t. But having them comment on my blog is really helpful to me and my ministry, even if it’s frustrating.
Every generation has to throw off some shackles from previous generations. I LOVE THE EMERGING METHODOLGY and TREMBLE WITH FEAR AND ANGER AT THE EMERGING THEOLOGY.
I want to be part of the dialogue. The older guys who are speaking into emerging churches… like Brian McLaren and Spencer Burke, need guys their own age to stand up to them and show them where they are wrong. And we need to do that in ways that a younger generation will listen to.
The young guys on maxgrace.com. sharpen me. I’m glad you guys are here… 84.2% of the time. PLEASE stay.
But also please understand how you are coming across to other readers on this blog. It’s important that you realize how you are being read.
I also want to add that the quality that one brings to the theological conversation is not always related to age. Melanchthon was young and was the voice of Luther. Timothy was young and Paul told him to let no one despise his youth. Others are old and their theology seems off to me. I learn a lot from talking with all kinds of people, young and old, of all different kinds of churches.
Oh… and theological debate is rich in colorful history. The Catholics referred to Martin Luther as a “syphillitic madman.” I’m sure he had even more colorful insults for them. Paul and Barnabas had “no small dissension,” litotes for a huge fight. It’s okay. Let’s just remember that our real fight is not against flesh and blood. Christ is preached. I rejoice.