Two things have changed dramatically on the religious landscape during my career in the ministry.
First, denominational labels have largely become unimportant to people seeking a church. That’s not always true, but movement across denominational lines when joining churches has become the norm, not the exception.
Second, churches used to try to grow in a cultural climate that supported them; now they exist in a culture that makes faith harder to live out. Early in my ministry, many churches, especially Baptist churches, were reactionary places declaring war on what they saw as a hostile culture. I have no desire to be a reactionary church like that.
On the other hand, we can no longer pretend that our culture is a hospitable place for faith. Our culture is not out to get us, but the patterns, attitudes, and habits of our culture pull us in many different directions and make church involvement very difficult.
Our ministries with children and youth recognize this and are working to equip our young people with the spiritual skills they need to live in this kind of world. They have been having conversations with parents about what the essential things are to teach in today’s world, and they are building curriculum and plans to focus on essential ideas and spiritual practices.
Also, our newest young adult Sunday School class The F.R.E.E. (Faith Reaching Everywhere) Class is wrestling with what it looks like to live out faith through church in today’s world. If you are not familiar with the F.R.E.E. Class, they are mostly in their twenties and early thirties. Some are married, but at this point, there are no parents in their class. On a recent Sunday there were 16 people present in this Sunday School class.
I appreciate all the work young leaders are doing in our church to live out and pass on their faith in today’s world.