The Church of Today

I was asked to give a description of the church of today from the perspective of the younger generations. At first I was excited and wanted to whip out a response immediately and then I realized that I needed to reflect on this a little more. This was a deep question. And even deeper when I read Eddie’s hub The Old Country Church which is the complimentary article. As I read his words, so much of what he was saying was familiar to me yet so foreign. Let me explain.

Let us start off understanding that I’m not a twenty-something younger generation that is giving this viewpoint. I’m more of an almost forty something that is standing on the bridge of the church from yesteryear and the church of tomorrow. As I read Eddie’s words, the church of my youth was laid out before me. I was raised in a small country church in Kentucky where only the finest of Sunday best were worn. You wore dresses to every event including Vacation Bible School and you never missed a church event. The old hymns were sung with feeling and the structure of the service was the same week after week. Testimonies where given every few weeks. Communion served every quarter. Picnic every summer. A Christmas play (the same one) done year after year. I still love to sing these songs and think of the traditions we had at that small church, but the nostalgic feeling that it imparts fades as I look with 20/20 vision at the church of yesteryear.

The reason that it is important to understand this yesteryear church is because so many of today’s churches are holding on with all they have to that same mold. But it is a mold that might just need to be shattered. The church of today is changing.

When you ask the younger generation today what they are looking for, most of the responses are about being real. Look at what they are watching. Reality shows are the biggest thing in several decades. Documentaries and tell-alls are the rage. They don’t want sugar coated words and they don’t want perfection. They want reality. And the sad part is they are not finding it in the church of yesteryear.

My husband and I were church planters. Basically, we were domestic missionaries that were starting a church. What we got from everyone that we ministered to was that we were real! They were so amazed at that. At first we were a little confused, but they very quickly explained. Too many within churches of the old mold like to pretend that there are no problems in their personal lives or within the church family. The ministers are put up on pedestals and expected to do no wrong. But when a flaw is seen disaster usually follows. That is not what the youth of today are looking for. They are looking for those who are not perfect. They want to know that the people ministering to them truly understand where they are coming from. They are looking for a church to accept them where they are, love them as they are, and come alongside them.

The church of yesteryear is fading away (with a fight) to give way to the church of tomorrow. What exactly is the church of tomorrow? It is a modern mirror of the church in its original form in the book of Acts. It is where the prostitutes worship next to the church leaders and neither one looks at the other differently. It is where the poor are as much a part of the ministry as the rich. It is where the heart is looked at before the social status or the checkbook is. It is where struggles of drug addiction, alcohol, pornography, and abuse are discussed and recognized. It is where giving of one’s self goes beyond a few coins and into your personal life. It is opening hearts and homes to those who are floundering and need a quiet in the storm of life. It is a reflection of Jesus’ love.

This is not saying that the church yesteryear didn’t love and didn’t follow Jesus’ examples, but the years have changed and the problems are more prominent and the communication style of the younger generation is changing drastically. The church of today is the bridge that we stand on.

Today you find a mixture of churches but more and more you are finding those that are real! That are willing to open up and be vulnerable to each other! Ministers can be ministers without regulation dress. Leaders can be leaders and still be human as they stumble. You find tradition being understood as secondary to the state of the heart.

Communication styles are changing with the technology that the youth are extremely intimate with. Computers, videos, music are all so different than it was twenty years ago. The younger ones are not sure how to absorb a message without many of these aids. Why? The educational systems use them on a daily basis. That is how they are taught to learn and understand. Therefore, the churches have incorporated the same methods to teach the Bible.

The issue with today’s church is that it is like a teenager, it knows it wants to go forward but is unsure when it wants to reach for tomorrow and when it wants to cling to yesterday. It is fighting to keep the old structure yet find something new. It is wanting to be real, yet keep the comfort of the mask. It is wanting to reach others yet not change the methods that it has used for decades. It wants to go forward without moving. Yet it is being dragged forward by the world.

The world is demanding the church to stand up and be true. It is screaming for it to show what true love is and not just quote John 3:16. It is throwing down the gauntlet to be loved and to be shown what mercy is.

Want to know if a church is in the past or moving toward the future? See how it reacts to someone in dirty jeans and needle marks up their arms. See how they react when told someone is contemplating suicide. See how they react to the unwed mother. See how quick the love is poured out and the traditions and ceremony are thrown out the window to show compassion.

The church of today to the younger generations is a torn entity. It has the potential to shake the world off its axis and give it a fresh and genuine face. The church of today is becoming real!

I go back periodically to visit the old home church and this is where it seems to be foreign to me. They rarely greet a newcomer especially if they appear poor while the churches I normally attend go out of their way to make them feel welcome. When problems are hinted at, they are whispered behind hands instead of being biblically discussed. I hear them talk about building programs and waiting on people to show up but not about going out and being part of the community. I hear them talk that someone should help the family down the road but not suggesting being the ones to do it. I realize that they are disconnected from the immediate world around them and don’t even realize it. I sing the great old hymns with them and feel the words but miss the heart of it all.

The church is going through another reformation. And again the world is watching. It is seeing the fighting and the struggles. It is seeing how it will end up. Does it stay in the past that doesn’t understand the future, or does it move forward and honor the past as its foundation? That is the question the church needs to answer to day. That is the question that will decide its fate.

The church of today reflects the struggle of the generations and the desire for all to feel as a vital part of it all. It is not sure if it should look inward or outward not realizing that it has to do both. It has to understand that its heart has to change and wisdom needs to be shown by all generations within it. It has to grow spiritually inside while looking outward and beginning to understand the community around it. The church of yesteryear brings dedication and steadfastness while the church of tomorrow brings reality and warmth. The two combined could be the revolutionary church of today.

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Comments 24 comments

Eddie Perkins 7 years ago

Thank you, Thank you.

Wonderful complimentary hub.  Thanks for taking the time to think it through.

Let us all remember that the church of yesterday was at one time the church of today and the church of today will become the church of yesterday.  We all need to be willing to change as time changes and do so according to God's Word and leading not according to the tradition of the former generation.

I know I need to think more on this hub but I wanted to give you my thumbs up now and come back later.

Thank you again. ~ eddie


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

A comment, I agree in what is being said about the church, I am old school, was an active member of an Anglican Cathedral. With sung Eucharist, chanted lesson readings, incence, the whole and real embedded old order of Christianity.

It took me a long long time to accept the revised new liturgy, I now think I would be hard pressed to remember much of the responses in the Book of Common prayer.

The Churches have today, have lost ground, the youth needs to be brought back into the fold. this is not just a Christian thing as the Jewish faith are experiencing the same thing.

The Churches are coming under attack, low attendances and fewer followers. We spend much of our time in touch with our keyboards and computer screens, our world is instantaneous and much of it virtual. This is were the Evangelising begins.

I spent the best part of a month in three months in a hospital bed. I did not receive a single hospital visitor at my bed and neither did any of my fellow bed friends. In the good old days, there would have been a visit from several churches asking if they could sit and pray with you for your recovery!

Some 30 years ago, that would not have happened, as this was fundamental and key for the lay people of the parish to be involved in the hospital visits. What has changed.

We, and I include myself, are no longer wanting to be involved, so we rather sit, disconnected with physical involvement, now are always available on-line.

It is not a bad thing as we are able to offer words of comfort and include people in our prayers, we are stretching out of our parish and being part of the world parish.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Rodney,That is what I was struggling with here. In our church now we are trying to bring back the one-on-one attention and stressing that we are a family and not just entities. There are good points from both generations. It is just a matter of bringing it all together. I know of older people who say that we are all going to hell for using powerpoints and younger ones who think any of the old traditions are all bad. The middle ground is the best here as long as we stick to God's Word as Eddie stated.

Thank you for personal input. It is hard for all of us to change and to remember what we should not change. The technology is great if used properly and not letting it take over.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Eddie, your words mean a lot since you inspired this. It look a lot of thinking and the review of a 25 year old to make sure that I was on the mark.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

I find it interesting reading your thoughts regarding the path of your church.


christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington

HALLELUJAH FOR RGRAF!!!!  Thumbs up, up, up!  I was so excited reading what you shared and know it is divinely inspired! I believe your best points are:

"What exactly is the church of tomorrow? It is a modern mirror of the church in its original form in the book of Acts. It is where the prostitutes worship next to the church leaders and neither one looks at the other differently. It is where the poor are as much a part of the ministry as the rich. It is where the heart is looked at before the social status or the checkbook is. It is where struggles of drug addiction, alcohol, pornography, and abuse are discussed and recognized. It is where giving of one’s self goes beyond a few coins and into your personal life. It is opening hearts and homes to those who are floundering and need a quiet in the storm of life. It is a reflection of Jesus’ love."

In a nutshell, you touch on how the church looked and operated in the book of Acts...the early church was established right after Pentecost. In these latter days...the Lord says he will pour out his Spirit..how people will prophesy, dream dreams etc. Jesus speaks of the new wine and how the new wine can't be poured into old vessels or old wineskins or it will rupture...only new wineskins can contain the move He is doing.  Again, we are talking about the heart.  So the churches are being challenged by the two....the old wineskins are the traditionalists who resist change and are often religious or legalistic...the new wineskins are those who are ready to do what Jesus did...the old needs to be honored, as in looking literally at wine, sometimes the old wine is better than the new...yet the old needs to allow room for the new and not hinder a move of God or grieve Him.  Regarding the 5 fold, most churches accept the offices of the Pastoral, the Teacher, and the Evangelist but some are resistant to the last two...historically, it was in the 90's we saw a resurgence of the prophet. Now we are in the decade of the apostolic. 

If I may, in response to JustRodneys comment, what was said about the hospitals and no visitation is very sad and I'm so sorry and I know God is grieved too....  Since last year, I've been contemplating hospital ministry but it keeps being met with resistance. I am not a "card carrying bible school grad" but I do have the deposit of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm plenty credentialed!  I do know medical institutions don't like it much when passionate anointed people show up because it interferes with their financial bottom line. I know people in health care witness miracles all the time too but you don't see much media coverage on the subject; our world doesn't want God to get any glory.

Great hub and I look forward to keeping up with you and what God's doing in and through your life - Blessings!

 


SirDent 7 years ago

This is very well written and laid out. I agree with what you wrote.We all need to go back to the old path. One thing my Pastor says quite often lately, "The problem with most church goers is that they are fake." I believe he is right when he says that.

For Christine. There will be resistance from Satan. Whenever good is present, evil is also present.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you, SweetiePie for reading it. I had several people read it before I published it because I know that it cannot be so generic to cover every single one of them. It was hard to look at it as a whole.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you, Christine, for your comments. I'm hoping to see more of the Acts church where ever I go.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you, SirDent. I sincerely appreciate your comments.


The Real Tomato profile image

The Real Tomato 7 years ago

Beautifully put. I can imagine people warming up to you - as you speak the truth without condemnation or vinegar.

You said  [The church of yesteryear brings dedication and steadfastness while the church of tomorrow brings reality and warmth. The two combined could be the revolutionary church of today.]

It reminds me that change, especially in the church brings a lot of adversity - throughout history change has never been smoothe. I hope that enough people can have an attitude similar to yours and pave the way for positive change in the next generation. Wouldn't that be a nice gift to leave behind for our grandchildren?


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

RGraf- I have a neighbor who grew up in the deep south and usually we don't discuss religion. But once when I was talking about tolerance to other beliefs then she said that is the "new age" thinking and she doesn't subscribe to those beliefs. Hence I don't know if some people resist any thing new and feel the status quo should remain. Just my two cents.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Thank you, Tomato. Appreciate your words :)

CW, I am from the deep south and many do not beleive in that, you are right. They don't understand that you don't have to believe the same way - just have respect for them as they should for you. Thanks again for stopping by.


kristinemac profile image

kristinemac 7 years ago from Michigan

Great hub! I could have written this myself right along with the description of both your church from youth and what your experiencing now as a church planter. Blessings to you in all your endeavors.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

kristine, thank you.


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Rgraf- Oh yes we are very respectful of each other and she makes the best cookies :-)


Eddie Perkins 7 years ago

RGraff,

I just wanted to come back and read this wonderful hub again as I promised.

People always want reality. They want us to admit that we aren’t perfect but point them to the One Who is Perfect. The “old country church” had more than its share of problems because it was filled with people who had problems – people who too often tried to cover up the problems. People who forgot that they were only sinners saved by grace and begin thinking they were in God’s place as judge and jury.

True the “old country church” had problems, but lest we get careless, let us remember that each of us carry the same sinful nature into the new church.

I Thank and Praise God for you and your husband every time I see you on hub pages – every time I read your hubs – your wisdom and passion – your love for your Savior and His children.

Please don’t get complacent in what you are doing – stay alert and keep your finger on the pulse of the church. Keep yourselves honest first and lead by example. A careful reading of the gospels reveal that Jesus focused much of His time trying to get His disciples to “see” and “hear” beyond the obvious and to “understand” the deeper truths. That is to see, hear and understand with the heart.

The “doing” in our flesh can distract the “loving” from the heart and love covers a multitude of sin.

Sorry for “preaching”. I have every confidence in you both. I’ve never met you, but I feel that I know you and I know that kindred spirit. I only wish that I could be a part of what the two of you are doing and see the old and new combined to a revolutionary church of today – changing lives and the world.

Blessings ~ eddie


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Eddie, thank you for your encouraging words. I deeply appreciate them.

You are a part of what we are doing with all the encouragement that you give when things get tough and the attacks start. your prayers have gone a long way.

We are in the process of developing a detailed discipleship plan that will lead people from babes in the faith to devoted strong foundationed leaders. We want the leaders of tomorrow to have the love and compassion along with the knowledge and faith.

thank you again for your prayers and your support. You might not realize it but whenever the enemy attacks and I'm being beaten up, you send the right words at the right time that help lift me up. Thank you for being a vessel for the Lord.

Your Sister,

Rebecca


His daughter 7 years ago

Great hub! I too remember church from years back and it has changed a lot (some good and some not so good). We must remember God is always ever moving forward and we need to move with Him. What really hurts me is to see within some of our churches the apathy and complacency that has settled in and what concerns me is what God will have to do to "wake" people up.

Great to hear you are church planters. That is what our church is about! Bless you and may the Lord prosper you as you move forward with Him.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin Author

HD, thank you. We've been watching some of the churches around us and when a need arises they are pull away as though they will get contaminated. I felt so sad when a few people from one church kept referring to some people we knew as "those" people.


dianacharles profile image

dianacharles 7 years ago from India

RGraf...a hub to introspect over. My brother and his wife too are church planters.I did love what both you and Eddie wrote.


Stephen Beck profile image

Stephen Beck 7 years ago

What an excellent hub on how the church today is changing. Spot on.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 5 years ago from Michigan

I found this hub while looking up some things on line in regards to the Church of Today (an actual church, you may have heard of it) and found this hub. Glad it brought me here and it seems that you have given much thought to being church planters for God's will. We all need to do a work in the vineyard. I see visiting the sick and those in need does not happen as much as years ago. I can't speak for anyone else, but I have found this to be a deed that is more focused on how much praise people get for going to visit those in need rather than focus on whom they are visiting (the sick and downtrodden, whether it's financial or meeting a daily need such as food, clothing and shelter, etc.) - and their purpose (demonstrating God's goodness and mercy) and goal (deliverance from whatever burden is being experienced). Of course, this is not true of ALL who visit the sick and downtrodden, but it seems to be the rod of which praise is often measured by - when we truly know that the praises belong to God - he is after all, God and God all by himself - and there is much comfort, joy, deliverance, salvation, testimonies and an overall feeling and growth of hope, faith and belief that God IS that ever present help in our time of need when we minister to those knowing we are God's vessel and workers in the vineyard and follow in his purpose and not seeking personal praise. I agree that a combination of both the old and new are necessary - visitors and members alike should know the comfort, warmth and welcoming of the church, not the fear of being turned away or looked down on and if such fear exists, it is erased when they receive of God's guidance, love and light from those whom they may ask for help.

Hope you have made much successful progress in the two years which have passed since the last comment on this hub. Have a great and blessed day.


PamD 5 years ago

I agree it's important for the church to provide for peoples' needs - to be the hands, and eyes and ears and heart of Jesus in the world. BUT I also don't think we should "throw out the baby with the bathwater". As you say, we need to keep the important parts of the past. First and foremost, I think we need to focus on a fourfold mission of the church: Praise and worship of our Lord in personal and corporate prayer, Bible / doctrine study and teaching, evangelism, fellowship of the body. We need to remember the first are primary without stinting on the other two. Balance is everything. This Saturday I had rehearsal for the childrens Christmas program (which has a wonderful evangelical theme) at 9:00am. Unfortunately, one of our elders, a 90-something lady has presided over the decorating of the church the first Saturday of December at 9:00am for donkeys years. I gather the pastor came under some spirited attack for allowing me to put our rehearsal on the church calendar in HER time slot!!! So we syayed after rehearsal to help with decorations!! That's reality!! LOL!!

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