During the month of February, the University of Life group has discussed some of Hamilton’s observations about the church and what Christians “get wrong.” Hamilton says that young people, particularly in the age range of 18-40, are not rejecting God. They’re not attending church because of church people. In other words, when young people experience churches that say one thing and do another, when they don’t practice what they preach, they’re turned off.
Here’s how another well known theologian describes the dilemma. Barbara Brown Taylor writes:
According to most reports, the church as we have known it is now on the endangered species list. While faith in God has remained high in this country, faith in the church has been on a steady decline, until many of our mainline denominations are wondering how they will survive…. We have lost our consensus about what it means to be Christian, and we have lost the language of faith we once had in common (or thought we did)…. Who can blame young people for looking elsewhere for God? Or for deciding—based on the behavior of churchgoers they know—that there is not much reason to look for God at all?Hamilton and Brown Taylor paint such a bleak picture it’s difficult to imagine solutions. Here’s one possibility. The solution to this and other aspects in our relationship with God is not ours to give. God chose us. We did not choose God. God’s purpose for us and for God’s church is still unfolding.
The liturgical season of Lent provides both for us and the church a helpful metaphor. David W. Johnson of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary writes:
“Journey” provides the metaphor…in this Season of Lent. There is a physical one, of course, that we follow as Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem. There is also the many-faceted spiritual journey of Christian discipleship: the journey from our false selves to our true self, the journey from our solitary self to living with others, and the journey of our soul to God.This year, during Lent, I invite you to experience the richness of journey, the promise of new life, the freedom in discovering that God has called us; God has chosen us; God is renewing us, both individually and as a congregation. God loves us; we are God’s children. We are on the journey. Thanks be to God!