Right, right—we’re already in “postChristendom.” In the same sense that we’re already in postmodernity, sure. The institutions of Christendom and modernity have hardly evaporated. They’re just in obvious transition. And by transition I mean death. Gasping, grasping, clinging-to-life death.
The ugliest part of Christendom’s demise is the institutional Western church’s denial as it tries diagnose its death throes as something else. We’re used to extraordinary life-sustaining measures. Death is just a problem to be managed until we engineer a solution.
Christianity Today reports that “now, just 1 in 7 pastors leading congregations is under 40, according to Barna Group’s 2017 State of Pastors project.” Fascinatingly—bizarrely—the church itself does not figure in the “nine overarching factors contributing to this generational disconnect” between Millennials and church leadership positions. The fact that most of us simply have no interest in keeping the institution on life-support is somehow lost in the data.
Look, this is not a problem that somehow inculcating a “robust theology of vocational discipleship” can solve.
This is not a spiritual problem. It’s a spiritual solution. I agree with David Kinnaman’s statement quoted in the article: “The Holy Spirit has sustained the church for a couple thousand years now and shows no sign of calling it a day. . . . Let’s trust the Spirit’s sustaining power not to quit, and prepare for the future.” It seems, however, that the institutional church has not come to terms with what the Spirit is doing in that regard.
“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).