By Victor Ochieng
According to several studies, more young adult Americans are running away from the Church and are viewing religion as an unimportant part of their lives. The society is becoming more secular by the day and several groups have tirelessly lobbied for complete separation of religion from state.
People are seeking independence from any form of deity. As this continues to happen, more church leaders are struggling to find ways to keep the church relevant, but it’s difficult because some of the issues they’re shying away from are exactly what are sending so many young people away from the church.
During a session of “Meet The Press” show, Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House of Dallas, Rabbi David Saperstein, senior adviser for the Union of Reform Judaism, and Pastor JoAnn Hummel of the Bent Tree Bible Fellowship of Carrollton, Texas, discussed how the church can remain relevant in the society.
“The challenge of people of faith is not so much to wrestle against secularism, but to remain relevant in a society that has lost faith in all institutions,” said Bishop Jakes.
“You have to think about sermons you give on political issues that address policy issues and social justice issues differently than you do other sermons,” said Rabbi Saperstein.
In his contribution, Michael Wear, the author of “Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House,” says, “For those who don’t discuss politics from the pulpit, it’s not because they think politics is unimportant, but because for too many of the congregants, politics is important in all the wrong ways.”
Truly, many pastors shy away from discussing such issues as racism and politics because these trigger different emotions among their congregants. As the church continues to refrain from such topics, the younger generation is developing a strong feeling that the church is irrelevant and callous to things that matter to them.
In a separate discussion, Jeff Hunt, the director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, said more churches are realizing the need to address contemporary issues from the pulpit and are thus looking for preachers who’re capable of addressing such topics regardless of whether or not congregants hold differing opinions on the issues.
“It’s important for churches to teach exactly what the Bible teaches,” Hunt said. “[Church-goers] are looking for congregations that are willing to teach the more conservative sides of the Bible and be more politically engaged as well.”
Pastor Hummel said that despite the high rise in secularism, congregations still remain the place to run to in times of crisis because they still address issues relating to physical and spiritual needs of the communities where they operate.
“We are there in the crisis moments of people’s lives,” Hummel said. “We’re at the sickbed. We’re at the wedding altar. We’re at the divorce court.”