The Church has More to Offer To All "Seekers"


Nothing about Thom Shultz's post on Vanishing Seekers strikes me as surprising.  We, in western, protestant Christianity, have focused so much on demographics rather than people, felt needs rather than soul needs, and resolutions over revelation is it any wonder that those same polling groups are showing trends away from being mere seekers?

"Pop-Christianity" has long been as fascinated with polling data as our politicians in an election year.  As the winds blow, so has this segment of western Christianity.  Ever noticed how most of the seekers we're looking for are usually in higher income brackets and more affluent communities both urban and suburban?  Our understanding of history seems only date as far back as the oldest living generation, no wonder we remain entranced by the 1950's.

But the Church has so much more to offer!  As we begin the ramp up to the Advent season, church staffs have already begun stressing on publication and advertising.  This is precisely when and where our attention can turn to the message of peace and hope - the very revelation of Jesus Christ: Immanuel! God is with us!!

Our liturgies, the practices of prayer and the order of worship are filled with participatory opportunities.  Yet we make apologies for our "ancient" book of faith when it is precisely the ancient and tested practices that so many are saying they are seeking after in their lives!  Since churches (and clergy) have long neglected or chosen to ignore our history, people go elsewhere to look such as Islam and Buddhist practice.  We continue to think  people want to debate when they ask questions not recognizing what they merely want is to listen to how meeting God in Jesus Christ has changed you and why your life is different?

I don't think it is fair to say we've got an emerging demographic even. Ages and gender tend to be crossing dramatically. It also seems to be as much personal as it is in relation to corporate participation. We've long worried more about Pelagianism and fear of legalism in our liturgy and practices.  So we've missed out on the good our more ancient practices of faith can offer us and those wanting to know God. Maybe this is the larger point we're missing, these people already "know" God - God is a given. They appear to be wanting to know how to experience and meet God in the everyday - does Christianity have a place for them and practices for their longings and their questions?

My experience and study is we do have the place and the practices but we have long hid them in the attic of history or in the closets of our various denominations.  We have grown so fearful of our vast faith practices of spiritual formation we dare not even consider exploring that landscape.  We fit well John Wesley's description of ,  "The generality of Christians...accustomed to use some kind of prayer; and probably to use the same form still, which they learned when they were eight or ten years old (Sermon on "The More Excellent Way")."  But we have so much more to offer and a world asking if we know the treasure we're sitting upon?


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