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Disclaimer; The following thoughts are not something I would die for, just some ideas that have being floating around. I would love to be corrected. Please feel free to disagree with me.

So for a long time now there has being this thought rattling round my head that the majority of young people I meet do not associate or pride themselves as belonging to a particular denomination. This has being hugely re-enforced this year as I have traveled and met a lot of youth workers, and spoken and hung out with kids from all sorts of churches. I have sat down with a lot of youth workers from most denominations out there in all sorts of towns and cities, from all types of churches. And we have talked and talked about life as we know it, sometimes for hours. And I have yet to see one of the these yoof types (as gareth calls them) get warmed up about their particular denomination. In fact the worldview of most youth leaders, from what I have seen, is remarkably similar.
They don't care about their particular church name, they do care about serving young people, and getting to know Jesus, and serving him whatever that means. But there has always being a skepticism about my particular angle or motivation for wanting to spend time with them... was I covertly representing a particular denomination so that we could steal all the young people from there church through Soul Survivor, and stealthily fill up the Presbyterian church, or Catholic, or whatever...

And I can totally relate. Even though I have grown up in an Anglican church, and worked in one, I certainly wouldn't identify myself as an Anglican. Sesh, im not passionate about the Anglican church, im passionate about the local Church, any flavor, im now part of some wierd emerging church type community made up predominately of young people who are pretty missional and very creative, and work for a Youth Movement called Soul Survivor that exists to serve anyone game enough to be in relationship with us, and then some.

And so I am wondering if our culture, as well as being post-modern and post-everything under the sun, is also post-denomination? What does that mean.

My mate dan (who I hung out with last week and blogged about here) wrote;
"it does seem like people are no longer interested in what church is called, but what it is called to, worship, serving (with heart), Holy Spirit, justice etc.

There are naturally a bunch of red flags and concerns about this shift.
I mean the last thing we need is a bunch of young people who flit from church to church with out ever being a part of community (and I want to underline part, rather than "in", stu highlights the difference in this post) and without ever giving themselves sacrificially to a group, to a community. What we don't need is this whole consumer Christianity being fed by the buffet Christian approach.

And I know there is a sense of loss, and a huge concern about young people drifting away from church full stop. My observations in most established, historical denominations has being that this drift has being met with fear, and a discussion about how we can "keep" young people, or "attract" them. I would argue that this is the wrong conversation to be having. I would argue that Church leaders need to be asking how they can be a resource, support, blessing, encouragement, source of wisdom, EVEN if this means that there denominational label wont be put on these particular communities. That these institutions with a lot of money and experience would invest in young emerging leaders, and back them, gamble on them, almost to the point of foolishness. Sadly I do not see this happening for the most part. Yes, this requires humility, this requires death to ourselves, but I think that there is some very real opportunity in the midst of this shift.

That we can be united in vision and values, through relationship, in a way that we haven't had for a very long time. And that we can have more conversation about the things that matter, than the things that don't. And we can move beyond just talking about stuff, and maybe, just maybe we could do something to build the Kingdom of God here in NZ and around the world.

There is a lot more I want to write but this would then turn into this post into something wwaaayyyy too long, and I know i haven't looked at a whole of angles, and have just scratched the surface of the problems with this, and haven't really explained myself that well, but hopefully it is enough for you to have something to chew over.

Im off to speak at LIVE camp this weekend, and then to Singapore on Monday to help and participate at the Alpha Asia Pacific conference. I am as excited as a little kid, coz I have never being to Singapore before.

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  1. Blogger Missional Jerry Says:

    "That we can be united in vision and values, through relationship, in a way that we haven't had for a very long time. And that we can have more conversation about the things that matter, than the things that don't. And we can move beyond just talking about stuff, and maybe, just maybe we could do something to build the Kingdom of God here in NZ and around the world."

    That needs to be the mission of ever believer.

  2. Blogger Sir H C Llenrad Says:

    Did that post just appear three times? Are you that keen for me to read it?

    I'm jealous of the Singapore trip.

    See you over the weekend.

  3. Blogger Sam Says:

    Sorry for the three post thing. Have had some battles with my lack or geekiness, and an unco-operating blogger... anyway :) Hopefully its fixed now.

  4. Blogger Gareth Bezett Says:

    Oh what a good topic to post on. A question I am constantly asking myself is: does my denomination have anything to offer? It seems to have committees and heirarchy. I'm sure it has many good things, but is it, on the whole, a help or a hinderence to ministry? Is this the right measure? Surely a church's success or failure will ultimately be in how it supports with minsitries of its members.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Hi Mr Harvey,

    I like it! But...

    Young people are still desperate to belong to something (all my young guys want to be gangstas - 'Cripps' etc). We just can't get too bogged down with denominations. It's important for whoever is sharing the gospel to not water it down because ultimately Jesus is what it's all about and he's the one thing that will capture and hold young people within a comunity (denomination). People who dwell on the whole Anglican, Catholic, whatever thing are kinda missing the point.

    No offence.

  6. Blogger Huggies Says:

    I think the problem I have with denominations is the insistance that I need to be one of them; rather than worship in a particular way, or be guided by a particular set of leaders.

    I am happy to be Christian, coz as far as I can see, the only requirement is to believe/follow Christ.

    I am not so happy to be anglican, catholic, pentecostal, baptist, methodist, presbyterian...etc.
    No-one can really make up their minds what you have to do to be any of those things. Can you be born into a denomination? People who knew me from our old catholic church often ask me if I am still catholic. I don't know how to reply in a way that doesn't give disappointment:

    "I love Jesus, but I don't personally identify with any particular denomination"...gosh it sounds so wishy-washy. But it's true.