Recently I’ve said, in one of my Sunday evening sermon/discussions, that this generation may be the most spiritually minded group of people to come along in years. This is what the so-called experts are telling us anyway.

In that Sunday evening sermon/discussion I also tried to get my church to understand that as a culture we are witnessing a huge shift in thinking patterns—the worldview is changing. My point was that it may be one of the most powerful opportunities in recent history for Authentic Christianity to make a difference in people’s lives.

As we move from a Modern world into what many are calling a Post-Modern world, there is a wide scale rejection of the values many of us have come to take for granted. For example:

  • The acquisition of knowledge. It has been viewed as the savior of the human race. Now, it is not necessarily all that good, especially if it is not accompanied by ethical behavior.
  • Advancing technology. For a time our ability to harness the power of nature made us feel invincible. God became unnecessary. The view now is that while it may offer some hope for what ails the human family it also presents us with the possibility of extinction.
  • The accumulation of wealth. For generations this has been our defining value. Many, however, are waking up to the truth. As an end in and of itself accumulating wealth is a mirage—it may keep us busy but it never fully satisfies our souls. In the meantime we discover that we’ve wasted our life chasing a vapor and that we may have even become an unknowing co-conspirator in the exploitation of people and the environment. (How can Chrysler, Ford, GM, and the others keep prices on SUVs so low? Strategically locating plants in developing nations where labor is cheap and environmental regulations are non-existent is at least part of the answer. The quality of the water supply nourishing the villages surrounding these plants is not a corporate value.)

These are the foundational values that Modernity offered. These are the values that under-girded much of the 20th century–the most violent and inhumane century ever witnessed by humanity. These are the values that are too often endorsed and embraced by Institutional Christianity. These are also the values that are experiencing a whole-scale rejection from sensitive, ethical, thinking people.

As these values are rejected, the form of Christianity that is directly tied to them is being rejected as well.

Those who study these things tell us that this generation values authenticity more than anything. Is it any wonder that there is a huge skepticism toward Institutionalized Christianity? The obsession with money so prevalent among evangelicals has revealed exactly what this generation is NOT looking for: the insincere and even fraudulent pursuit of material things at the expense of people and the environment. When major corporations exude these values and engage in this behavior it is almost expected; when Institutional Christianity does likewise in makes most people want to puke.

The values being embraced by our culture include the humane, compassionate, and ethical treatment of all living things as well as the environment. Some may scoff at this as empty-headed liberalism. My sermon/discussion brought a sharp and public rebuke from one of the key leaders in this congregation. However, in my judgment  the values being embraced by this generation are more biblical than the rank consumerism of previous ones. Go re-read your Bible from “Genesis to the Maps,” look for discussions about the stewardship expected of humanity with regard to all of God’s creation, and then tell us what you think.

Regardless of where we come out on this discussion “politically,” we cannot and should not deny the obvious: the shift in thinking is presenting an opportunity, an opening, for disciples of Jesus Christ. The question is will the Institutional Church respond with more of the same or will it divorce itself from Modernity and offer our culture what it is so desperately seeking—Authentic Christianity.