Monday, October 29, 2012

    Question of the Day: Why Church?

    At the recent Rethinking Youth Ministry event I led in Boulder, a question came up that any person leading ministry with youth in mainline and progressive churches probably needs to ask on a regular basis. It's a question we pose in our book Missional Youth Ministry: Moving from Gathering Teenagers to Scattering Disciples:
    "With all the energy we expend trying to attract youth to our churches with flashy and entertainment-centered programming, perhaps we've forgotten to ask why we want all of these teenagers there in the first place. More importantly, perhaps we've failed to offer our young people a strong, compelling reason to be at church beyond lock-ins and weekend retreats. What do we say if they ask us, 'Why come to worship? Why be a Christian? What difference does it make?'" (p. 22)
    What do you think?  For those of us who don't see eternal salvation as the central issue of Christianity, why do we want youth to be part of the Church and the faith? For those who do see salvation as the primary motivator for being a Christian, is there something more to following the faith than simply maintaining one's salvation?

    3 comments:

    Casey said...

    i just wanted to let you know i shared your question with the facebook group "theology on tapp" to discuss, piece by piece. feel free to join in. :)

    Paul Sheneman said...

    Here are the line of questions that I've come to ask when a teenager begins to articulate the "Why church" question.

    1. What do you think God's plan is for the creation and humanity?

    2. What role does Christ play in this plan?

    3. What role does the church play in this plan?

    The first question calls out or leads to the "central issue" of Christianity. The second question helps them gain perspective on how Christ is the "central issue" of Christianity. The third question leads to the necessity of church for them today.

    So here is where I typically go with the third question.

    God has chosen the church to follow Christ in order that we may participate in God's work of redeeming and restoring the world.

    The way that we participate in God's work is by imitating Christ.

    Worship is central to and essential to how the church learns to imitate Christ.

    This usually ends with the teen asking something like, "Why does it benefit me to be a Christian?"

    To which I respond something like, "It's not about you. (long pause) But it does benefit you and the whole world."

    Chad McDaniel said...

    why church?

    family - Jesus said something about his family being those who do God's will, not blood family. this matters to people today who increasingly come from messed up families.

    mentors - where else will you find people who can actually walk through life with you? honestly, where? everywhere else in the world, it seems, people are pulling away from one another. the church has a CHANCE to be a place of mentoring, discipleship, and true community. it's the place where, as Chap Clark has said, some "social capital" can still be exchanged.

    finally, if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me. ok. that's a stupid way to put it. but honestly, Jesus went to synagogue, he gathered with his people to worship. are we above Jesus? are we above the gathering of His body, the Church?