I had the opportunity to present at a session of the Kentucky Annual Conference of Methodism this past week. During one of our lunch break out sessions, I was a part of a conversation on “Emerging Ministries.” With our denomination in its fourth decade (!!) of decline, people are worried about the future and the near complete lack of 20-30 year olds shows there is reason for concern.
So what is the answer? I will submit to you this: We need to be less concerned about the answers until we start asking the right questions. That is where I believe the emerging church holds promise: not with answers, but with questions.
If church ask the question “How do we get 20 and 30 somethings into our doors?” I believe we will fail miserable. Instead, we should inquire “What questions are these new generations asking?” This generation is no longer primarily asking “How do I get to heaven when I die?” or “What church is best for me?” Instead, we find a generation who is asking things like:
- What does salvation look like here on earth?
- How can we experience holistic worship and restoration?
- What does it mean to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come?’
- Where can I find authentic community?
These questions are more than just a shift in focus, they are a shift in thinking. This postmodern generation now thinks narratively in a non-lineal fashion and approaches issues holistically. Spiritual restoration cannot happen apart from physical and emotional restoration.
To say these things is not to deny the importance of other’s questions. I am convinced that disagreements in the church are less about different answers once we realize the questions we each are asking.