Thursday, April 21, 2005

The New Reformation

I think that two hundred years from now people will look back on this generation and realize that these were the days when the church went through a Second Reformation. The first, of course, was started by Martin Luther with the Protestant Reformation. Luther objected to a religious system that favored the religious machine over the people themselves. The same is happening today, only in a different way.

Right now you can find churches that exist in two completely different worlds. The world that is passing away is one that is based on form and function. It focuses on what you do and what you know. Whether that's a focus on the liturgy of main line denominations (things like the sacraments) or the liturgy of the evangelicals (things like Bible teaching and singing), both are concerned about procedure - everything must be done appropriately to please God.

On the other hand, there are new churches that focus on being, on life change and on relationship. They too use the sacraments or Bible teaching as above, but they are a means to an end, not the end in themselves. In my opinion, it is this focus that breathes life and attracts people to God. People walk away sensing that they've encountered God while the former leaves people feeling empty and wondering if they did something wrong - maybe that's why church is so unfulfilling.

While I'm happy for the transition it also makes me sad because I feel out of touch with a large segment of the church. I'm not excited about what they are excited about. I used to be. But I'm not any more. And so a separation has taken place. I wish we could all walk together and share the same joy but I guess that is what transformation is about...a process.

Unfortunately the two extremes don't understand each other. We tend to call the former group backward and the latter group liberal. I've gotten my share of criticism, and to be honest, been critical of others. I hope we can make it through the next twenty years without doing too much damage to each other and God's name on earth. After all, it's all about Him, isn't it?