By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
What trends do you see in our culture that are affecting the church? Really ponder this for a moment. Our staff has had some great discussions around this question, and I’ve enjoyed reading some blogs on trends in the US.
The staff listed things like social media influence, busyness, apathy, minimalism, division, privatization, and many more. I am sure you could add others.
The one trend I’d like to address today is what I will call “everything on demand.” We rarely watch what is on TV, we stream what we want from Netflix, Pureflix, or Amazon. We want food available always, and restaurants are accommodating. We want news on our time schedule, not just at 10pm - that’s out of date. Newspapers are outdated before they print. If I have a question or something I want to learn about, going to the library later in the week will not cut it. Google will give me a plethora of articles and videos to peruse immediately. We want “everything on demand.”
What does that have to do with church? Well, the Sunday morning service has for many years been our primary, if not exclusive, discipleship vehicle. And what we provide has been on our schedule. If you miss the one hour window, you can request a DVD, but that will take a while to get.
The reality we face is that more and more people are having to work on Sundays, have family events, or simply choose to be gone. We can blame employers, sports, and affordable vacations, but that does us no good. Like it or not, people want spiritual growth tools available immediately.
This might actually be a really good thing. If the church can provide engaging, trustworthy teaching 24/7, disciples may consume biblical truth faster than ever. They may be the brightest, most informed believers ever. Now, we can make information available, but information does not make a mature disciple. That information must be processed in relationships.
So, as our Equipping Ministry Teams look at the future, we must find ways to provide answers and tools for discipleship 24/7, but also create more opportunities for that information to be processed and applied in relationships. We need new wineskins.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22
For those of you who are younger and excited about this trend, we’d love to hear more from you about what you need. What issues are most pressing for you to understand? Marriage, parenting, politics, leadership…? A second question is more difficult: What vehicle would be most helpful to process what you learn online? Small groups, mentoring, Sunday school, online chat coaching, workshops, retreats, or something else. Let us know.
For those of you who are older or dread using technology, don’t give up on the next generation. They need you more than ever. They need to process and apply the information they are learning, and you have the experience and love they desperately need! This will often be informal. It may simply be asking questions at Sunday dinner or after their sporting event. Please accept this as a challenge… ask younger folks personal questions.
How are you really doing?
What decision are you struggling with?
What is God saying to you lately?
How can I pray for you this week?
We are in for an adventure as we sort through the best way “to develop and deploy Christ-like leaders.” I hope you will be all in and see God do an amazing work in you and in many others.