In This Series:
It’s where people worshiped, got married, were buried, and gathered socially. We met for choir practice, evangelism, and family fun days. We coined an expression to emphasize the value of the building: “We’re going to church.” We let the Internet age destroy the historical, social center for the Christian community. We have migrated to endless social communities in cyberspace, relocating the church building to the perimeter of our lives and moving our preferred social media platforms to the center.
We have thrown the baby out with the bathwater as we mock our former “three to thrive habits” of showing up for church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We restricted our church attendance sermon diet to once on Sunday, competing with our vacations, Sundays on the lake, and kid’s sports. Meanwhile, our youth have full access to these social platforms where they can hang out with their friends anytime, day or night, and they love it. When they turn eighteen and go to college or get jobs, it’s not a big deal for many of them to leave their local churches behind because the building (or its inhabitants, the church) was not at the center of their lives anyhow; it was one of many social offerings that sat on the perimeter. I mean, “Why get in a car and drive to the building to meet up with someone when I can do it in seconds online?”
A high view of the church, which was a given, is old-school. There are several reasons why our teens are leaving our churches in droves, but you will always find a smartphone and its effects associated with this problem. One of the assessment questions you want to ask about your child is his view of the local church. Is he committed to it, as evidenced by his desire to fellowship with flesh and blood people in the church? Or would his first impulse be to grab his phone and connect there? Are you committed to your local church? Or do you prefer strangers on the train, in cyberspace, or some other spot where connecting is more effortless but transformative, sanctifying, discipleship is lacking?
The cyber effect is real. Though we won’t understand it entirely, we have enough data to respond differently than our culture. We are redemptive agents doing the Lord’s work. The devil has thrown us a massive curveball, but we can take it, reverse it, and use it redemptively. The question for us is whether or not we believe this is a big enough problem that needs our attention and intentionality.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).