Being Current with the Times:
Being a ‘current’ church is not about saying one method of doing church is better than another or that a particular style of church tradition, music or dress and/or denomination is better; nor is it necessarily about how hip and modern we must try to be in order to attract more people; nor is this an attempt to liberalize theology in order to be liked. This is simply one approach to meeting the needs of a generation. To be current is to be personally honest and true in manner.
What is meant by an honest and true in manner? Let’s look at some examples from The Emergent Church movement. Before we do, it should be noted that The Emergent Church is not without its share of critics, and rightly so in some circumstances. So, for the sake of brevity, we will not delve into what makes or breaks The Emergent Church, but share some examples of what they do right.
The Emergent Church is a movement spawned by a generation influenced by its culture to do church in a manner that is true and sincere to itself. In other words, if we allow ourselves to be ourselves, as people who are Gen Xers or Millenials, then we can express our love to God through natural and honest forms of (artistic) expression. I believe this is what Jesus calls us to when he said we will worship in spirit and in truth: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
The Fourfold Gospel Commentary put it this way: “God seeks for genuine and not formal worshipers, and for those who worship him in truth; that is, those who render him the obedience of faith with a filial [devoted] spirit, and not those who render him the empty service of types and shadows, ceremonies and rites, which…have lost their meaning.”1
Besides the traditional worship service, the church should encourage other forms of genuine worship expression, whether it’s music, dance or drama, or perhaps prophetic painting. The church should also find ways to incorporate every form of talent and gifting into the church in ways of service. For example, incorporating people’s technical skills Sunday mornings by running sound and video production whereby hundreds more can be reached via internet.
An honest or “truer” manner also crosses over into areas of dress and other self-expressions such as allowing congregants the freedom to express themselves with their hair and clothing styles (so long as it’s modest—and rules about modesty should not cross the line to legalism). Let them come with their piercings and tattoos, their T-shirts and jeans, their Carhartts and camouflage, or their suit and tie. Many churchgoers and potential churchgoers have been rejected by Christians, even asked to leave a church and never come back, due to the church not accepting a person as they are. Certainly, this is no way of bringing people into the church. While the intention of the church in this case might be good (in an odd way), it leaves the hearer with nothing more than a feeling of rejection and exclusivity. “Exclusivity, applied legalistically and without relational foundation, leaves a bitter taste.”2
Even in what may seem like ‘bells and whistles’ to some, ‘being current’ enhances the atmosphere of the church to where it draws people in and helps them to engage in worship and service in a manner that is a true expression of worship from themselves as well as cultivating their specific gifts and talents in service to the Lord. As mentioned in the example above, even ‘being current’ is an act of love; an act of being salt and light.
1McGarvey, J.W.; Pendleton, Philip Y. “The Fourfold Gospels” Biblestudytools.com http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/the-fourfold-gospel/
2Kinnaman, David; You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books), 174-175.