I recently tripped over the documentary, “Divided”. It is arguing against siloing the Christian community into different age groups. What particularly interested me is that it comes from the part of the Christian spectrum that has been arguing for siloing. “Church growth” models have been advocating having services where people are similar to each other – in age, music style, etc. The siloing approach seems to treat the gospel like a commodity – available from different providers, with the idea that the providers are different in order to encourage a wide variety of people to use the one that fits their profile.
The gospel, it seems to me, is actually more about uniting all our God-made differences in one community, around one table. I have argued that children, for example, be as fully part of the worshipping community as others.
How do we make our worship something that we can continue to grow into, rather than something that people grow out of? A healthy community has examples of all ages and stages to encourage people in their life-long journey of faith.
The documentary is based on research that around two thirds of young people are going to leave the church. “We’re losing about 40% of them by the end of middle school and another 45% by the end of high school. In other words, we are losing them way before college.”
We have become so dulled into accepting the capitalist model of choice (eg. never-ending variety of means of transport, powered by multiple-option energy sources, purchased from a variety of providers) that we do not pause to be surprised by a Christianity that is split into ever-fragmenting denominations, in which there are different types of parish service stations, which themselves worship in shifts (8am old people; 9:30 middle aged; 11am young families divided into main auditorium, creche, Sunday school classes of different age bands; 5pm; 7pm youth;…). We preach a gospel of “unity” and practice a gospel of division. And in this case at least, I think the medium is the message…
What do you think? [And please don’t get hung up on the obvious biases of the documentary – to do so merely reinforces my point. Here is one attempt to rethink how to disciple young people that runs against the current of many (most?) Western church approaches].