One of my students (she just graduated) but I think I will always refer to them as my students), Ashley Alexander, over Random Reflections Via Ashley posted a good blog in response to the satirical comments of the Lark “news” article which I posted on a few days ago.
How to do church has been a big question for every generation and it’s going to continue to always be that way. Being on staff of a church puts you smack dab in the middle of that battle, as I am able to watch the struggle of each different generation trying to hang onto how they have always done church, while the new generation tries to establish their own ways. Sometimes these differences can co-exist in the same church, and sometimes even in the same service. Other times, it can split ministries, churches, friendships and more.
I’m not too much of a stickler on how one wants to do church, and I see it being done in many effective ways. I’m trying to figure out these questions as we journey along in the college ministry here at Bel Air Presbyterian Church. I am thankful that I am surrounded by a bunch of staff members, congregants and students who allow me a lot of room to experiment, struggle, fail, and hopefully succeed at times as well.
In fact….tell me if you think I’m wrong. But the Emergent movement is simply a different generation trying to figure out how to do church. And its main opponents, or criticisms come from figures or leaders in the “evangelical movement”, especially those from non-denominational bible churches. Which is interesting. Because these non-denominational bible church leaders were criticized decades ago for breaking away from the mainline denominations and trying to do church their own way.
There is always a new group, usually in a yonger generation who wants to do church differently. And then there is the group that wants to oppose them, though they found themselves in the same position years before.
This is obviously a very simplistic explanation, and there are many reasons why groups oppose other groups ideas of how to do church. Maybe it’s the fear of losing power? Or clout? Who knows?
But I am continually thankful for those who push the boundaries, and ask new questions. This seems to be something that we as Protestants are thankful for. If I recall correctly….Jon Hus, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin and others pushed the boundaries of traditional thought, and asked new questions. But hundreds of years later, we probably take that for granted.
So thank you to my students who continue to ask new questions….who continue to come up with fresh ideas on how to do church…who continue to have new ideas for musical worship…who continue to have new ideas for evangelism and outreach. You help keep me, and everyone else on our toes, and in good dialogue.
Because some day. My own children are going to have different worship music than I listen to, or maybe even like. They are going to want to do church their own way. And when I’m in my fifties, I will desperately plead with them and try to convince that I was cool like them one day. That when I was in my 20’s, I was with a group of people who knew how to do church. And they just might believe me. Hopefully though….each generation can respect the previous generation, as well as the newer generation…each movement can learn something from another movement. Maybe we learn what not to do. And maybe we learn something new.
My grandma is probably not keen on electric guitars in the worship service, but I give her a lot of credit for not questioning the legitimacy of a new generation and their way of doing church. Though it may not be what she grew up listening to, she figures she has something to offer as an older member of her congregation. Make that the oldest member probably.