I liked this review of Rob Bell's NOOMA series by Gilbert. Well thought out and written. He makes an interesting statement though..."If you want to engage a 'new generation' looking for authenticity, honest answers, and a willingness to look unflinchingly at human sin and suffering, that’s the gospel that will do it"...with the definition of the gospel in the preceding paragraph of the review.The tough question here is why does it seem that that gospel is not doing it? If our kids, who grow up hearing the gospel (Gilbert's definition) are walking away, the question is why? There are of course myriad answers from sin to boredom and asundry others, but, if the gospel is so compelling as we say it is, to dismiss the issue based on hardheartedness keeps us from asking harder questions...have we taught a viable model for faith? do our biblical interpretations hold up? when our faith is challenged how do we respond? I think the answers we have provided to some of these questions is what drives the younger generation (and myself to some degree) to look for answers elsewhere.
Mike,I challenge your assumption that we have been teaching the gospel. It's ironic but evangelical churches have not been good stewards of the evangel.The gospel is still the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16) is it not?Surely you're not saying we must come up with a new gospel.?It's not that the gospel has been "tried" and found wanting but that it has been neglected or assumed.
I suppose this is a debatable point but I am not sure you would find much differences in churches who have historically preached the gospel versus others...but if even some of the statistics I have read from Barna are to be believed traditional evangelical churches are not making much of an impact on this generation...which gets back to my original questions....there is something wrong.
Mike,No question there is something wrong but the problem is not with the Gospel.And if you think traditional evangelical churches have done a good job of proclaiming the Gospel then perhaps we have different experiences.
Interesting discussion...First I don't think any simple answer would likely suffice, but I attribute some of it (the perceived lack of interest of the new generation, that is) to cultural differences from one generation to another. I dare say our current generation in America may be more historically typical than that of the mid-20th century America. What I'm saying is that today, our culture couldn't care any less whether you go to church or not. Not so, say in the 50's - used to be the nice, proper thing to do. So, could it be that we have the same number of Christians today but just less church-goers ? Don't know - just a thought. Christ never said the gospel was going to be very popular. I'd guess our generation is in reality no less interested than any other generation - just that church-going is no longer a social grace for nice people any longer.
Harley,I think you are absolutely correct. It's not so much that there are any fewer converts just fewer "churchy" unbelievers. Also your point about the popularity of the Gospel is very important to this discussion.The pomo\emergents are making the same mistake of the church marketers that they (rightly) eschew. That is, they are obsessed with the same question: "What will work?" This is why both Willow Creek and emergent churches are pragmatic.A superior question to "will it work?" is "Are we being faithful?"
Agree with your last point Todd, but isn't one of the points that Gilbert was trying to make was that if we are faithful to the gospel, ipso facto, it will work...perhaps there is a difference on the macro- versus micro-level...but it seems to me that it has to "work" at some level...otherwise there would be very few people indeed who would be Christians (and you would have to doubt their sanity if they were). I have to think about this more...
I read an interesting poll which asked teens and young adults why they stopped attending church. The number one answer was hypocrisy in the lives of their parents. If we want our kids to cling to Christ and reach other young people,then we as parents have to show them "the power of God" as we live out the gospel on day to day basis.
It is such a fine line we have to walk, isn't it. We want the gospel to "work" - of course we want to see people come to Christ. But, we need to understand what the Bible teaches about how and when it works. It is interesting that Christ spends no energy preparing His followers for the great "success" of the gospel - rather He prepares them for how they will be hated for it. So, in some sense, if it's "working" we'll catch more grief than "success". So antithetical to the way we think. "Be prepared to teach in season and out"...I agree also to some degree on the hypocrisy issue - but, we need to be careful. That's also a mantra of the unregenerate to excuse their own unrighteousness. To be sure, there are hypocrites, but at the same time, we are all hypocrites when it comes right down to it. I'll bet if you dug deeper with the kids in the survey, it is the ones whose parents felt righteous that turned away. The ones whose parents knew they were hypocrites and taught their kids that probably did a better job at leading their kids into the saving grace of Christ...
It seems like Intro to NT Greek 101 for Rob Bell is in order: http://andynaselli.com/theology/nooma-blooperOops.On the other hand, Nooma's creativity is something to be celebrated.
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