Posted by: minnow | May 22, 2011

What Is Their Inheritance?

As I look at the generations that follow mine I see even, or perhaps especially, in America a significantly large “unreached” people group.  They are suspicious of and unimpressed by the generations that have gone before.  And, who can blame them?  We are more interested in telling them what is wrong with them and right with us than we are in encouraging them in their dreams and admitting our mistakes.  We have left them a world drowning in discord, disrepair, and dysfunction.

Respecting a person’s intelligence and autonomy goes a long way toward earning the right to be heard.  And, without earning that right, we won’t be. Yet, one of the most persistent arguments I hear from traditional evangelicals is that we have done it the same way and believed the same thing for 2000 years and so should. not. change.  Yadah, Yadah, Yadah…No wonder half the younger generation walk around with ear phone in their ears and the music turned up so loud I can hear it as I pass by and the other half are busy talking or typing each other on their phones.

Now, I have never been one to “church hop”.  The times I have switched fellowships for the most part were caused by physical moves to another state.  Once I followed a former pastor to a new fellowship and once I left a denomination that did not acknowledge speaking in tongues as a spiritual gift because I was in a season of my life where speaking in tongues seemed out of my control (key word seemed).  Anyway, I say that to preface this–when I knew I could no longer participate in the last fellowship I left I also knew I was not heading out one door simply to walk in a different door.

Since my exodus, one son quickly followed for very similar reasons.  A second son eventually realized he had freedom to leave and for his own reasons walked away, in a mostly-out-but-every-now-and-then-in sort of way.  A third son, my oldest, seems to be wrestling, attends the fellowship most of the time, but seems discontent.  My two daughters, a teen and a five-year old, are faithful attendees.  The older has several friends she is deeply connected to and the younger likes hot cocoa and singing.  My husband, like our oldest daughter, has strong connections to people within his fellowship but like our oldest son, seems discontent.

I offered that brief personal look at our family’s experience of organized church in order to say this–something is missing.  Eight years ago when we arrived on the scene the youth group at my family’s fellowship averaged well over a hundred kids per meeting.  Meant for the college and high school age groups, middle schoolers begged their parents to be allowed to go.  And, more than few parents hung out around the edges.  After the death of a senior pastor and a major transition of leadership this same group counts it a good night if they get more than a couple dozen.  What happened?

I humble suggest the Institution over ran the Church.  Those most interested in accountability but too afraid to confront individual situations as they occurred opted for (in the form of “apostolic over-site”) a legalistic controlling religious spirit instead of freedom.  Rather than continue to bless and support talented worship and youth pastors in their giftings the new over-site turned them into ill-prepared (AKA: puppet) senior pastors and replaced them with an equally ill-prepared worship team and youth leader.  Their college ministry was completely closed down and the youth group, as I said earlier, became a vapor of what it had been.  Rather than acknowledge the women who had been ordained as elders, all the elders were asked to “turn in their credentials” so that the new over-site could choose his own team” (forget that when they were originally ordained the fellowship affirmed they all had been called by God not by men).  In the end, only the men were reaffirmed.  The Church that had worked hard to connect with the teens and twenties generation was rendered an ineffective Institution.

Does the Institutionalized Church really wonder how it can reach the generations outside its doors?  Or is it rather asking, “What’s wrong with them?  Why don’t they understand how great we are?  Is the Institutionalized Church willing to be the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus?  Or is it only interested in being its own mouthpiece?  Does the Institutionalized Church actually want connections and relationship?  Or is it merely interested in obedience and admiration?



  1. Well this is a pretty blunt post. It is also a very relevant one. Well said Minnow!

  2. […] shared my story of emerging from religious oppression here, here, here, and here, and in numerous other posts.  The short version goes something like this:  After twenty-plus […]

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