Sunday, May 22, 2016

The older generation's secret faith vs today's share-everything compulsion

This morning, after church, I was involved in an interesting discussion about evangelism and the mainline church. It was pointed out, I feel correctly, that older generations - which make up the vast majority of mainline denominations - largely see their faith as a deeply personal thing.

This, it was proposed, is a genuine reason for the stagnation of more traditional denominations.

With the drop in culture-based obligated attendance, the way the primarily church grows is due to faith sharing evangelism. Amongst the older generations, as a sweeping generalization, this does not happen freely.

As I pondered this, I wondered if this is positively counteracted by the social-media-driven oversharing of today's generation.

In the past, when a person went to church, or had a significant experience, they might keep it to themselves or only disclose it to those who they felt would be "accepting" or "safe."

Nowadays, everyone knows. Instantly.

You post pictures.
You live tweet the conference.
You take a selfie.
You tag your location.

And all your friends know...
And your family...
And the people you used to go to school with...
And your workmates...
And your random acquaintances.

All 1000 of your "friends" can potentially "see" your faith experiences.

On top of the status of your religious views.

And the "motivational quotes" you post by C.S. Lewis.

And the fact that you follow Tiny Bible Bits (I'll admit that this is a cheap plug) and like your favourite bible teachers and ministries.

Today, due to the "negative" that we compulsively feel the need to post everything since we would hate for anyone to miss a morsel of your existence, is this a hidden evangelistic treasure?

Now, there are plenty of reasons why the mainline denominations are faltering - lack of engagement during services, not utilizing modern technology, past mistakes ignored or covered over, an old-fashioned stance on many hot button issues, and many, many more - but, if the church is grown one person at a time, through personal invitation, then the introverted nature of the older generations, in regards to faith, may be a genuine contributing factor that doesn't get enough air-time.

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