I saw this tweet yesterday by my colleague Larry Wohlrabhe, Bishop of Northwest Minnesota Synod, which I retweeted followed by Pr. Tiffany Chaney.
THis is a FACEBOOK LIKE 17 times over, and I realize, that I/we need to be exceedingly careful as we wrestle with the breakdown of Christendom. The 'nones' conversation is all the buzz right now. It's the 2010's decade version of the 'seeker' conversation from the 90's. The conversation is basically the same, only I want to add a major course correction.
We need to shift away from "reaching the nones" to ministry with the 'nones.' These categories are helpful for shortening the need to define the large swath of people, 75% in New England, who do not participate in a church, temple, or synagogue, BUT, they are not helpful in that they reduce human beings to objects or even, prey. I'll continue to use the phrase 'nones' as a shorthand, but know that I am speaking about Cory, Debbie, Carol, Luis, Shavon, Terrence, George.
Alan Roxburgh has been very helpful to me, in reaffirming the Jesus movement was primarily about joining people in their communities and discovering what God is doing in their lives. So the questions we engage in today are not, How do we get the nones to come to our church or how do we market to them. THe question is, how can we join the nones in discovering what God is doing in the neighborhood.
Church folk making friends with non-church folk
Walk across the street and shovel your neighbors walkway or mow the lawn
Pay the toll for the person behind you
Get to know people and invite them for coffee in your house
Attend an open AA meeting and just sit there and listen
Our posture as christians need to shift from proclamation to discernment, and discernment means listening. That's a skill we can all benefit, and will indeed contribute to making the world a better place. Infact, I would suggest it might even be the first step in our time for partnering with God in the rebuilding of the community of the world (aka the Kingdom of God if you want the biblical language)