The most dangerous thing in baptist Christian life is not to be wrong. The first deadly sin of the baptist Christian is to be right, but to be right too soon.
Of course, there is the added burden to be right but smug and so odious to one’s peers.
Life is a meadow, not a minefield but, even in a meadow, there are things to step in if one is not careful.
I have stepped in aplenty.
My Friday lament.
On the other hand:
Western culture, not the Pioneer/Cowboy churches, but Western Europe and North America, particularly North America, has a particular crushing problem it has never faced. The problem is not competition from low-cost foreign workers. John Kennedy enacted his tax cut economic stimulus quite because the American economy was sliding into recession while American factories moved overseas.
Jobs left and did not return. In fact, those jobs mostly do not exist anywhere any longer. Read your Greenspan. Greenspan is wise. Pedantic, eerie, monotone and thoroughly impersonal but sage, wise, informed. Don’t spend your time fighting for the bottom or rushing to the near past.
I have limited time today, so let me hasten. The problem in Western culture is the crush of human population formed by the presence of three distinct (if muddled) generational groups. Traditionalists led society from WW II until the 1970’s. They had come out of the depression and war. Their generation had an enormous capacity for work/sacrifice. They were great at Transformation by Conformity. They could meet in giant rallies, listen to Billy Graham or Adlai Stevenson or Ike and be soundly converted.
Along came the Moderns, who led the culture from the 1970’s until the mid-90’s and who still have great power today. The Moderns are organized, business like little gnomes who put aside the rebelliousness of their teens in the turbulent ’60’s. Please. Tom Hadyn ran for Congress and won. Eldridge Cleaver sold pants. Bob Dylan became a Christian.
Traditionals conformed to one another and put their faith in education. Moderns, educated, put their faith in organization/business systems, devised the Four Spiritual Laws and won entire populations to propositional faith in Christ. If the generational metaphor of Traditionals is Conformity, for the Moderns it is Control.
Then came the Post-Moderns, Emergents, Cohorts, Villages, Millenials. They rule now but have not ruled long enough to have a name that sticks to their generation. The generational metaphor of the Millenials is Community. They want Community. They have some education though more of a technological nature than a Liberal Arts education. They are thoroughly wired, hideously in debt, whiny as all get out and more than a bit spoiled.
Sorry. Millenials will bypass every clear means of communication, cry because you did not talk to them enough or just right and then quit if you blow a boo at them. This generational group is headed for some major trauma and soon. They have never known a recession. There has not been a recession in Western Culture, not since before these folks were born. There have always been more jobs than workers. When unemployment hits 6% there will be some major adjustments. When unemployment hits 8%, I fear there may be a meteortic rise in the Prozac level in the water table.
Why does this matter? If you have a choir, a praise team and a bale of hay in your sanctuary every Sabbath, you know. Our society knows as well. Check out the 60 Minutes report on the millenials and then check out the unstated knowledge you find here; never before have three generations this size, with such divergent expectations, come together in one period of history. Overpopulation is not just because we are being born too fast. It is mostly because we are dying too slowly.
I am already too radical for most baptist Christians, for whom anything is radical that does not involve children gluing cotton beards onto Jesus figures, while their parents imbibe more information on what Paul really meant. It is necessary to say baptist churches are taking the "B" word off the door. Churches are pragmatic. They do what is necessary to survive. The ones better comfitted demographically thrive. The ones well placed in a growing setting, suitably financed and willing to accomodate their setting, thrive and are noted as geniuses, annointed of God.
There are bigger changes coming. They are the natural progression of culture clash in a deeper sense. Monday, should I live, I will tell you what the coming changes may be and what to do about them.
By the way, ultimately, the question to be answered, is, "What can you do enthusiastically?"