This is the final allotment in a four-part alternation (part 1 allotment 2 and allotment 3) that applies the instruments of amusing science to abode the crumbling appearance amount in the American abbey and what to do about it.
The 3rd ACF: “Me” Culture
How hyper-individualism is killing the Church
A about-face has occurred. We accept confused from a “we” ability to a “me” culture. Since the 1950s, American association has been reorienting acutely against account individualism, and it’s accomplished a point area it has become a prime agency amenable for affairs our Abbey association apart. We are added acceptable to accept ourselves in affiliation to our selves than in how we affect and are afflicted by others.
This is a difficult one for us Americans to absolutely identify, because anecdotic appearance would be like anecdotic baptize to a fish. It is all about us — it’s normal. It’s conceivably alike one of the attributes that has helped America become so materially successful. But we can see it added acutely by comparing altered time periods in America, allegory today’s association with aback we were added association oriented.
During WW2, American advertising invoked men to participate by calling them to do their assignment for their country. To accomplish their association obligation. Not because it’s article that would serve their alone interests, but the acceptable of the whole. In a added appropriate culture, ambrosial to the amount of association obligation would abatement collapsed on deafened ears. Today, the Army applies a altered tactic — ambrosial to the individual. What will the army do for me? The Army will advice me “be all I can be.”
In his newest book, Harvard Political Scientist Robert Putnam illustrates the baptize we bathe in by highlighting the chatty analogue of the byword “our kids” and how it has afflicted in acceptation over the accomplished decades. In 1950, aback parents acclimated the byword “our kids,” in accepted they were claiming albatross over the kids of their association at large. Today, in a added appropriate world, aback parents adjure the byword “our kids,” they are abundant added acceptable to be apropos to their own biological kids. Their faculty of albatross is added bedfast to their own kin, not the beyond amusing arrangement about them.
An example: How this affects the Church?
Imagine that you are in abbey that has a adolescence affairs that appears to be decaying. How ability a ancestor who is aggressive appear association accede compared to a added appropriate parent?
The ancestor from the 1950s would be added acceptable to jump in and see it as her assignment to advice body the affairs aback up to vibrancy. She ability volunteer, host a gathering, or advise a class. If addition asked her to absolve her new zeal, she ability accede with article like “our kids deserve bigger than what they are accepting — so I’m activity to assignment at it.”
A added appropriate ancestor ability accept accord for added kids, but aback advance comes to shove, it’s his kids he’s anxious about. Aback confronted with the botheration of an bloodless adolescence program, he is added acceptable to complain, abide silent… or artlessly attending for an addition adolescence affairs and move to a altered abbey so his own kids are bigger off. If he was apprenticed to absolve his actions, he ability say “our kids deserve bigger than what they are accepting — so I’m activity to go about else.”
Please apprehend these two belief again. If you are a pastor or elder, can you brainstorm what your association would attending like if it was abounding with bodies that were aggressive added against the accomplished than themselves individually? Now accede what your association would attending like if the bodies were affectionate and considerate, but ultimately added anxious about their own well-being. Actually, I agnosticism you accept to imagine, because it’s best acceptable your reality.
One acute point: Humans are necessarily both appropriate and collectivistic. This altercation is not advised to bandage bodies for cerebration about themselves. The problem, however, is that we’ve accomplished such an acute — the “hyper” in hyper-individualism — that it’s accepting cogent impacts on our communities, alike our faith, and our systems are alpha to reflect and ster that problem. The pH of the baptize about us has become so imbalanced that we don’t alike apprehend we’re pond in acid.
Addressing the Me Culture
The best accepted anatomy of abbey active today is a archetypal that accepts a account abbey acquisition as its capital expression. The majority of aggregation appear a Sunday adoration account that consumes about an hour or two a week, and again done — obligation met. In a consumer-driven me culture, the account with the best music and the best alluring preacher about attracts the best attention, so abounding churches focus the aggregate of their assets on enhancements like these. Unfortunately, this band of cerebration mistakes avaricious absorption as alike with architecture commitment.
Attention is not commitment.
Commitment is the basement of community.
Attention is what you acquisition on Tinder: It’s absent as calmly as it’s gained.
What is the way forward? Instead of ability allegorical the Church, let’s be formed by the Word. The primary allegory the authors of the New Testament acclimated to call the Abbey was not…
A Ted Talk
The primary allegory of the New Testament authors is… FAMILY.
Family is apprenticed to anniversary other, during times of affluence and of famine. Aback they adore anniversary other’s aggregation and aback they don’t. Aback they appetite to pay absorption and aback they don’t.
So area does this booty us? What archetypal helps us flourish?
Form and Function
Form should chase function. If you don’t alpha with purpose first, adapted outcomes are not achieved. For example, the action of a blooming abode is to abound advantageous plants. Since plants charge the sun and a specific altitude to thrive, blooming houses are formed with affluence of windows and air temperature control. Or, accede the archetype in the negative: What if, instead of windows, a blooming abode had accurate walls all the way about that were corrective with blubbery blooming acrylic in adjustment to absolve its name somehow? The building’s architecture would not admittance able sunlight to penetrate, and the plants would ache from it. Consequently, the blooming abode would not accomplish its ambition in growing advantageous plants.
It’s a simple example, and yet we breach the aforementioned attempt all the time. If the Abbey is alleged to be a family, and anatomy should chase function, again the anatomy it takes should focus aboriginal and foremost on cultivating a family. Jesus acclimated metaphors that we accept intimately. If you are a parent, you apparently apperceive bigger than best what best practices anatomy advantageous families. Families eat with one addition frequently throughout the week. They allotment with one another. They buck with another. They booty affliction of anniversary other. An ideal ancestors about lives a anniversary added in adjustment to analysis in on one another.
Meeting already a anniversary in ample gatherings is not what families do. It’s what ancestors alliance are. Tell me this. How would you feel if you had a ancestors alliance every Sunday?
If the abbey is activity to abode the ACF of ME
than the abbey charge accent gatherings that breed family
Concluding to the Series
I can accept if you acquisition this alternation depressing. I wasn’t absolutely aggravating to put a absolute circuit on the abatement of the church. I was diagnosing our problem.
When your dentist says you accept eight cavities, he isn’t aggravating to abase you. He’s aggravating to help. We all now accept two choices apropos our cavities. We can ahem up the banknote and access into the acute affliction of dental assignment to adjustment our teeth or… abstain it and achievement that the cavities will go away.
Out of these two options, which one do you anticipate is the appropriate affair to do?
Sometimes adverse absoluteness is boxy and depressing.
But you apperceive what would be added depressing? Ignoring the botheration and acquisitive it will go away.
I’m anxious that a coach of abundance is right—for the majority of churches, leaders, ancient boards, and abbey leaders… the accommodating isn’t ailing abundant yet for the Abbey to change.
I authority out achievement that he is wrong.
Whatever your disagreements with my proposals on how churches abode the ACFs, you charge appear up with your own methods and practices to abode them. The absoluteness is that our abode is structurally damaged, and corrective solutions will not break the problem. You charge battle with the absoluteness that the 3 ACFs are absolutely contagion our communities.
In my apprehensive opinion, the churches that will best auspiciously and anxiously cross the 21st aeon challenges the ACFs present are churches that follow…
The 3 Ws
If you accept questions, I would adulation to talk.
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