Below is an excerpt adapted from nuChristian:Russell Rathbun is a founding minister with Debbie Blue of House of Mercy, a pioneering emergent church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also the author of the new book nuChristian: Finding Faith in a New Generation (Judson Press) which responds to recent reports of Christianity's image problem. In nuChristian, Rathbun offers practical suggestions for leaders who want to reach out to the new generation with a Christlike community that is
- HumbleRathbun invites us to move beyond statistics and defensiveness to hear a new generation’s critique and to be authentic about who we are as flawed human beings saved by a gracious God.
The Life and Death of a Church Is a Beautiful Thing
There is the sort of general belief that a church is an institution that has a long, long history and therefore should have a long, long future. Of course, there are historic churches in this country that have been around for 150 or 200 years; in Europe some have been active for 500 years and a few for nearly a millennium. However, the average life of a church is around 60 years, which is just long enough for young energetic believers to question their parents’ understanding of what church should be. These youthful believers often band together and form a new church, to grow that church and to grow up together in that church, to get married there, to have children and raise them, to watch their children leave, to play golf together when they’re retired, and then to die and be buried there. The average life of a church is about the time it takes one generation to live their lives together as an expression of the body of Christ. I think this is a beautiful thing. It should not be mourned but celebrated.
Christianity is a dynamic faith, a moving faith. Jesus is always on a journey, always moving. In the Old Testament, the patriarchs were always moving—from one territory to another, usually in obedience to God’s call. It sometimes seems that when the people of God stop moving and set down roots, that’s when things start to stagnate. In the arc of history God’s ability to reconcile the world to God’s self will not be hindered if your local church closed its doors because the next generation goes off and starts something new, in the same way God’s work would not be hindered if my church closed its doors.