Connecting the Dots.....
Over the past 9 days I've written about Faith & Religion, Love, Nature, The Rubin Museum, The 9/11 Memorial, Commercialism & Christmas, my Childhood Church, Inspiration, and Forgiveness. But today I want to write about the next generation. Spirituality, Faith, Religion whatever you want to call it has changed for the next couple of generations. It appears to me that they are not looking for the same thing my generation and the generation before me was looking for.
If you look back over time the three places people connected where home, work and church. Then a few of years back the third place became the coffee shop, thanks to Starbucks. At this point church moved into the fourth place. And I believe, the placement of church is changing again. What I am hearing is that church is moving down the ladder of connection because the next generations are interested in places where they meet and commune with others in nature, like hiking trails, or at the outdoor neighborhood brewery, or at meditation, yoga, spin and workout class, amongst other places. They find these places less judgmental and accepting them for who they are. They are looking for places that are fused with a bigger picture which includes peace, love, kindness, equality and local service to others. They look forward to discussions about their differences and sharing their opinions. They research and they are reading and viewing articles and videos from all over the world from many different vantage points.
The next generation is looking for the energy you can receive in church, but they are unsure if you can still find that energy there, so they are looking elsewhere. They are seeking places that aren't as caught up in the rules and places that don't discriminate based upon gender or sexual preferences.
It is somewhat like we've made a turn back to a more 1960's approach to life and faith. It's interesting if we look at this turn - and it's imperative for those of us who believe in the institution of church that we do see this change. Because if we don't, churches will begin to disappear. Even those that call themselves "contemporary" a very old term now which is a blog of it's own.
What do you do? How do you connect? And are we listening? It wouldn't be the first time that something disappeared over the course of time that in retrospect was a long time in the making but no one was looking closely enough to stop the momentum. I believe church is important. It is important because there are lessons to be taught through scripture and music, there are relationships that help our "villages"develop and feel safe, there is service to others that is done locally and globally, not just monetarily but also with hands on work. I would be very sad to watch the end of something that has the opportunity to teach scripture, then explain what it meant at the time and then explain what it means today and how we can use those lessons. Religious institutions have an important place not only in our past but in our present and our future. They are here to educate, comfort and connect and to help us look beyond ourselves.
I believe the church should be asking: How do you show understanding and let down the guards of our past, while expressing openness and acceptance? And can you do this when you still have people who will walk into church and say "you're sitting in my pew" or "We've always done things this way, there's no reason to change"? I don't have the answer, but this I am certain of, if we do not pay attention, if we do not listen and if we do not drastically change in some ways we will be closing many doors that need to remain open. And that will be an epic loss. It's time to start the conversation and to begin building bridges between our differences. And if you are reading this, and you say "our church is open and accepting and doing all it needs to do" I hope you are correct, but I implore you to look again....because sometimes we do not see the forest through the trees.
Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,