Usually when churches choose to stop doing Biblical things they don’t want to admit that the reason behind it is laziness, apostasy or sin. Rather, they like to blame the Biblical thing itself for not being “effective” enough, or they might claim that it’s just a calling for some to do on their own, or that say that culture has changed and that modern or young people aren’t interested in these particular Biblical things, so that’s why we shouldn’t do them.
I joked with these three excuses in my recent sketch about why churches don’t evangelise. In this post I would like to focus on the “modern/young people want something different” argument. It’s often used as an evangelistic argument: in order to win or keep people we need to change. Which is why it’s so absurd when it’s arguing against evangelism.
But whatever Biblical thing you argue against, it becomes nonsensical to use this argument. You need to either argue that churches shouldn’t follow the Bible, or that the Bible actually says something different from what it appears to say. What modern or young people think doesn’t matter at all. If doing Biblical things put them off, so be it. We must obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5:29), and the Bible is a better source to what God wants than Millennials.
Of course, if you’re talking about things that the Bible doesn’t comment – like what music style to use or where to evangelise in your local area – it’s not just right to adapt to what your contemporaries like, it’s irresponsible not to do it! But so often church leaders forget what the Scriptures describe church life as. Right now, a lot of churches want to be like Hillsong and attract youth by turning their worship into a concert stage show with lights, lasers and fog machines, rather than question why we’re organising church around shows when the Bible talks about house communities that truly act like families.
Similarly, there are talks in the Jesus Army about changing our community of goods so that it would be better suited for young people, some just want to tweek it (like having more smaller houses and apartments rather than big ones), other want to change it quite drastically (like removing the life-long commitment or the actual sharing of possessions). The drastic changes, however, make community something different to what the Bible talks about and are very harmful for the poor who community really should prioritise. Rather than capitulating and saying that we need to adapt to non-radical views of young people, we should teach them what the Word of God says and show them the door if they’re not willing to follow it.
Seriously, when young Christians don’t believe in healing or that Jesus is the only way to God, that’s clearly not an argument for changing our doctrine. It’s an argument for teaching them biblical doctrine. And so as long as you don’t have any biblical argument against evangelism, community, or anything else, you’re not allowed to ignore the Bible just because you think young people do.