We all know the problems within Christianity. Legalism, a disconnection from the Millennial Generation, an abrasive approach to current-day social matters, and what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus in the West. Most writers and critics share their thoughts on the daily. In fact, I’m often one to voice my criticism of the flaws within the Body of Christ. I get it. There are so many things within the Church that need healing and redemption.
Yet, what is the modern-day church getting right?
A friend and I were recently having this discussion and he made a valid point: there are many positive changes happening within the Church that we are passively ignoring. I’m guilty of pointing fingers, rather than calling out the good in our communities of faith. It’s easy for me to be a pessimist.
“Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought forms of that setting.” – Francis Schaeffer
I’m not a Christian sociologist with all the answers, but here are a few examples of how the Church is changing for the better from my own vantage point:
- The generation gap is closing. Youthful leaders are not being shunned as too “immature” or too “young” to make an impact. The message of Paul to Timothy is actually taking root in many churches across the world, with young pastors and teachers having a voice in important discussions on social matters, the future of the Church, and new methods of reaching the world with the Gospel. I’m encouraged when I see young leaders, such as my friend Will Darden, who are taking the helm of making positive change in their communities. The youthful vigor of these leaders is contagious.
- Technological advancements are not being ignored. From the use of social media to virtual church methods, the Church is learning how to connect people across the globe to have discussions about Jesus. A message, a book, or a movement can be shared from Charlotte to Los Angeles to London to Paris and to Johannesburg with a tap on a screen. In fact, I’ve made several friends across the world due to the powers of social media (namely Twitter). It’s fascinating the discussions that have taken place in that type of forum. It’s a beautiful medium, if utilized properly.
- The Church is beginning to welcome those once considered “outsiders”. For many years, the vast majority of the world’s population have felt as if the Church is only for the “righteous”, not for the broken, the poor, the skeptics, or those who challenge traditional Christian teachings. I adhere to a somewhat traditional, orthodox teaching of Christian doctrine. The communities of faith in which I’ve been a part have often reflected such teachings, as well. Mosaic LA is a perfect example of one of those communities. However, they aren’t scaring off those who once felt intimidated or estranged. Instead, the doors are open for conversation and new ideas. I often find that closed doors with unflinching ideas are more dangerous than relativism in society. It’s not that we deny what we know to be true, but there is always something to learn from others who may differ in various opinions. Some “truths” were actually never true. Sometimes, they were just us making a new law like the Pharisees.
- There is a renewal of what it means to “reflect Christ” to the world. When I was a kid, looking like Jesus often meant what style of clothes we wore, what style of music we enjoyed, how separate we were from modern culture, and how many church events we attended. I’m seeing that change for the better in our modern church. Christians (aka – “little Christ”) are beginning to show the love of Jesus through infiltrating pop culture, through leading the charge in many social causes, and through befriending those the Church has often neglected due to their “sinful appearances”. It’s not that the Church is accepting sin with a blind eye, but rather, the Church is beginning to bring change through grace and love, not condemnation. The world does not care if you wear blue jeans or slacks to church on Sunday morning. They don’t care about our preferences in worship music. What they care about is if we truly care about them.
There are many other ways that the church is changing for the better, but I just wanted to offer up a few that are easy to see.
The Church is never going to be perfect, for it is made up of imperfect, sinful creatures being redeemed by a sinless, perfect Redeemer. However, it’s beautiful to see the movement of Jesus moving into the future, not remaining in the past.
As for me, I’m encouraged after thinking through these changes. Maybe I can become more of an optimist about Christianity, not the pessimist I’ve been for many years.