This week a couple of things trigged some nostalgia for me. I went to Jordon Cooper’s funeral and another major blog in the old post-modern/emerging/missional church stream shutdown. As I went to the funeral with another blogger from back in those days I asked what came of all that conversation. He replied with the title of this post. Changing the church is hard. In my house church years, I was neck deep in living out the things I was exploring. I didn’t have the same need for discussion, so I wasn’t as involved. When I went back to conventional churches I found that they had changed. I don’t think they changed for better.
- They couldn’t figure out how to facilitate real community small groups so many churches started dropping them.
- Focused discipleship programs like Sunday School are done.
- Music is in church is more concert than collective worship. Far fewer people sing and the music is usually too loud.
- The churches that have the resources try to out do each other with theatrics and carnival tricks on special event days.
- The people who want to learn something are turning to YouTube and podcasts.
- Even though missional became an accepted buzz word, very few leaders truly understood it, let alone actually became missional.
- Quite a few of the voices that have evolved from those years have just adopted the social justice mantras of the postmodern left.
So, what did we get wrong?
Postmodernism is more toxic than we realized.
Take part your value system piece by piece and at the end you have a mess that is very difficult to put back together. Many of us didn’t. The incipient backlash against postmodernism has proven that there is still a compelling case for truth in this world.
We took failure a little too hard
What happens when you pontificate on issues far and wide and then fail when you finally get your chance to show everyone how to do it? Bad things. It is very difficult emotionally and mentally. This was even harder for those who were more motivated to look cool as they were to create something different. The truth is what were trying to do was much harder than we realized, and we should have embraced the failure, taken the time we need to regroup and kept trying.
We had a real aversion to looking like the old guard
Complicated social systems are sometimes built on forgotten wisdom. In the quest to try and fix one problem we inadvertently take out some very necessary pieces we didn’t realize were so necessary. The cutting edge conventional churches do this too.
We were too afraid of commitment
Many of us didn’t want to be caught in the cycle of rote obligation so we avoided asking people to commit to anything. Unfortunately trust, companionship and connectedness grow much better with commitment.
Culture defeats structure
If you take encultured evangelicals and put them in a different environment, they really don’t know how to function differently even if they want to.
We spent way too much time trying to write books, and look cool
How many books were written that said the same thing over and over again?