Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Out of Death Valley

Christianity Today has an article by Michael Lindsay that decries the number of Seasoned Believers who refuse to attend a church. Who prefer to gather with friends and family for discussions and study.

Here are a couple of his USA Today comments quoted by CT.

Michael Lindsay has, through extensive interviewing, tapped into a feature of American evangelicalism that’s both fascinating and frustrating: two distinct social tiers. He identified these as the “populist” and "cosmopolitan” groups, which he wrote about in Faith in the Halls of Power. But there’s another way of looking at evangelicals that divides them — much along the same lines — into elite and non-elite Christians.
The separation is fairly deep, it seems. So deep that they don’t really go to church together. In fact, Lindsay
writes in Monday’s USA Today, many of the evangelical elite (including George W. Bush) hardly go to church at all:
I spent the past five years interviewing some of the country's top leaders — two U.S. presidents (George H.W. Bush and Carter), 100 CEOs and senior business executives, Hollywood icons, celebrated artists and world-class athletes. All were chosen because of their widely known faith. Yet I was shocked to find that more than half — 60% — had low levels of commitment to their denominations and congregations. Some were members in name only; others had actively disengaged from church life.

(Gary says, "This generated about one tenth of the posts an article on church for kids draws, and I know why. Ministry to or of Seasoned Believers is not very interesting or controversial. Here is my comment. ")

About a year ago I was led to launch a new ministry focused on men and women who have served God faithfully for two decades or more but find themselves with no place to gather and minister today. Most churches have a plce for babies, kids, youth, college and career, young couples and old folks but nothing for the very vital, gifted, talented, wise, experienced Boomers and Pioneers.
We have the experience, money and wisdom to lead, volunteer and start new ministries but few ministers who see our value. "Why Men Hate Church" says a lot but Seasoned Believers of any gender are unwelcome in most churches except to take a bus ride to Branson.
Contact me if you want to find a niche with other Seasoned Leaders and we will solve our own ministry issues and sing what we want to sing.
Mr. Lindsay's book, Faith in the Halls of Power is a very informative look at the way Evangelicals have risen from poverty and the margins of society to enormous influence in politics, the arts, education and social justice.

In the coming decades, ministries to and with Seasoned Saints will blossom and bloom into a major spiritual revival around the world. Those ministers and churches who are creative enough to see the future will reap huge dividends for the Kingdom of God.


paula clare said...

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the was a great read.

I suppose the goal then, of today's leadership in churches, ought to be to "get over themselves" in regard to our (the Seasoned Believers) not being there and begin to ask themselves WHY?! I believe the Willow Creek REVEAL study did just that. The answers were surprising...but not to those of us who have been "all dressed up with no place to go" for over a decade. :-)

Thanks for leading the charge!

Gary Sweeten said...

Paula, I think we will see massive numbers of Seasoned Believers become Seasoned Leaders and use their age and wisdom to bring about these changes. Hang in there and keep teaching the good stuff.