UPDATE January 22 —
Is it possible to pursue God without being involved in a church? A growing number of Americans think so. Yesterday, leaders from the Columbia Union Conference and beyond participated in a Twitter chat to share ideas of how the Seventh-day Adventist Church can better meet the changing needs of Americans.
“The twenty-something generation has made a critical distinction between religion and Jesus,” tweeted the Center for Youth Evangelism (@aucye) in Michigan.
“Externals, including church institutions, can become distractions to spiritual quests,” tweeted Raj Attiken (@RajAttiken), past Ohio Conference president, in the Visitor magazine’s #relevantreligion chat.
What other reasons could there be for this growing individualism in spirituality?
Diego S. Boquer (@diegosboquer), pastor of Chesapeake Conference’s Glen Burnie and Brooklyn churches in Maryland, tweeted, “One of the reasons is because how religion is presented. More and more people want relevance and not tradition or ceremony.”
Jacob Gemmell (@jacobgemmell), a member of Chesapeake’s New Hope church in Fulton, Md., and a Good Forum Ministry leader agreed. “Many American’s don’t want answers spoon fed to them. Religion often times can put God into a box,” he tweeted.
Meeting Their Needs
Chatters also discussed how meeting evolving needs often means a change in church evangelism methods.
“Some people are just afraid of change,” said Jacob Gemmell tweeted. “Let’s look at how Jesus did things.”
A. Allan Martin (@aallanmartin), a pastor at the Younger Generation church in Texas, added, it is important to be sensitive to that fear and urged church members to listen closely to what certain? approach and methods mean for the church. “There’s a fascinating story there,” he tweeted.
Jacob Gemmell, whose ministry uses art as a springboard for spiritual conversations, said, “Before going into an evangelism routine, get to know someone’s perspective, their questions, and their struggles with religion and God.”
Dave Gemmell (@kitesurfpastor), associate director of the North American Division’s Ministerial Department, added, “Church is simply a means to the end—the end is Jesus. If the means doesn’t work, change the means.”
Whatever the methods, one thing remained constant in the conversation.
“The story of Jesus is relevant to every culture, faith community, time and place,” tweeted Attiken. “ Focus on introducing Jesus, not the church or anything else.”
Click here to see a full transcript of the Twitter chat, then tweet your thoughts using #relevantreligion.
The Visitor also tackled this issue in Despite Negative Press and a Drop in the Polls, is God Making a Comeback.
Previous story posted January 21 read:
Today at 12pm the Columbia Union Visitor Magazine is hosting a Twitter chat on how our church can better serve the growing number of Americans not identifying with any religion.
About a year ago, a Pew Research Center report revealed that a rapidly growing number of Americans — 20 percent of the public and one-third of adults younger than 30 — didn’t identify with any religion. But a quick scan of the country’s cultural landscape suggests Americans do have a keen interest in — maybe even a passion for — God and spiritual things. From books to television to the digital realm, religious subjects and themes surround us.
Join the Columbia Union Visitor’s #relevantreligion Twitter chat today, January 21 at 12pm EST as we discuss this phenomena. We’ll chat with Dave Gemmell, associate director of the North American Division’s Ministerial Department, and Raj Attiken, retired Ohio Conference president, about why this is happening and what we can do to reach this group. (Can’t tweet then? Tweet your questions/comments to @VisitorNews or Facebook them and we’ll ask our experts for you.)
Victoria Michelle Bernard is the Visitor’s Digital Media Editor.
This article is republished with the permission of the Columbia Union Conference Visitor.