I’m stuck between generations, I think. I have one foot in “old school” (that really bugs me), and the other in “let’s get out of the rut and move on” (that really motivates me).
Take church, for instance. When I was a little girl, you didn’t dare set foot in church without a hat covering the curls your mom painstakingly created, a perfectly starched and ironed Sunday dress with the big bow in the back, little white ankle socks and shiny patent shoes. The moment you walked through the church doors, complete silence and impeccable behavior was expected. Any deviation resulted in swift and severe punishment. If you so much as thought about swinging your legs as you sat primly in the pew (that is, if your legs weren’t long enough for your feet to touch the floor), Mom was quick to pinch a tiny bit of your skin between her thumb and forefinger. And you didn’t dare make a sound, even if it hurt. Which it usually did.
Men wore suits and ties. Women wore nylons and high heels. Bare legs would have caused a scandal, and I’m sure anyone wearing jeans to church would have been excommunicated.
That’s the way it was every Sunday morning for all of my growing up years.
Thinking back on it now, church never seemed to be a particularly happy place. Expressions were always solemn – attempting a display of reverence, I suppose – but I don’t remember ever sensing an attitude of joy in the worship of our Heavenly Father. The upside was that people were dedicated to being there and doing whatever needed to be done.
Well, times changed.
People started getting excited about Jesus. And they actually showed it! Over time, it became acceptable to dance and shout and clap and raise our hands in church. The music kicked up a notch with the introduction of guitars and drums and lyrics on an overhead screen instead of in a hymnbook. You went to church every time the door opened because you didn’t want to miss what God was doing there. The “dress code” relaxed and it didn’t matter if you wore jeans or sandals or left your necktie at home. You actually brought your Bible with you and wrote notes in the margins because the Word became alive.
The times changed again.
We wear our jeans, we have the great musicians, and we open our Bibles every Sunday morning. But expressions are once again solemn – reflecting apathy, not reverence. Dancing and shouting and clapping have been replaced with complacency. We skip out on church for any mundane reason and think it’s no big deal, giving little thought to how the pastor must feel when only a handful of his congregation will hear the Spirit-led sermon he’s prepared. And just try to get people to commit to doing something to help in the church. No one wants to get involved.
So what’s my point?
In my “stuck between generations” view, I can see pros and cons all around. I loved the sense of community we had with our church family in the old days, but there was no life in the Spirit. I loved the spiritual hunger and excitement for Jesus in the middle days, but for many it has since fallen away. I love the deep things of the Spirit we are learning now, but I am saddened by the lack of commitment to the body of Christ.
I don’t have a solution.
But God does.