Readers' Forum

Re: "Older Christians are Leaving Churches" Part One
"Must Not Read"

Please remove us from your mailing list. Several articles printed recently remind us that the problem with the church today is people in the church. Accusatory articles and pointing fingers by people/authors who have no credibility with which to speak have made this a "MUST NOT READ" publication, i.e. your recent front page article by Wayne Edwards, "Older Christians are Leaving the Church."

Please remove from all mailing lists and future publications.

First Church of the Nazarene
Texarkana, TX

Reprint Request

Thank you for the excellent articles published in Pulpit Helps.

We respectfully request permission to reprint quotes from the article, "Older Christians are Leaving Churches," by Wayne J. Edwards from the March, 2006, issue of Pulpit Helps for the May, 2006, issue of the Sword and Trumpet.

The Sword and Trumpet is an independent Mennonite church monthly magazine operated on a non-profit basis.

Peggy Jo Byler,
administrative assistant

Editor's response: Of course this request is granted—and to anyone else wishing to republish Wayne Edwards' article for local or regional non-profit distribution. In fact, the permission also covers reprinting Parts 2 and 3, upcoming, of Wayne Edwards' article.

Statements Are Alarming

I am a pastor in a rural area, and I concur, that I am seeing this happen with many "older" believers.  I am not seeing them "leave" the church, I am seeing them transition to other churches that fit the style that they desire. This is where Mr. Edwards and I part ways! Every church in America is dealing with the same "Culture War." Yet, I see Mr. Edwards' article as supporting the breach rather than repairing it!

I am in neither of the groups that we are speaking of. I am 45 years old, right in between the twenty somethings, and the sixty somethings. I think that I see the real "Truth." We cannot do without either of these. I have to touch both of them!

There are statements in Mr. Edwards' article that are truly alarming to me.

  • His statement that it seems to him that we are turning all of our efforts to the "younger group."

  • His statement that many pastors are so concerned about reaching the unchurched that they are unchurching the churched.

  • His statement that we are disenfranchising concepts that God has used to build His Church for 2000 years.

These statements come from this position: Church is here to meet my needs!

Chester Passmore Jr.
 Hatfield, Arkansas

Editor's response: There is an old story about a group of blind monkeys who encounter an elephant. One monkey goes to the great beast and touches a leg. He returns to the group and describes the elephant as like a tree trunk. A second monkey goes forward, and touches the elephant's trunk…a third encounters the elephant's tail. Obviously, none of their reports match; and it seems Mr. Passmore is not seeing the same part of the elephant that Wayne Edwards sees.

Agrees Wholeheartedly

I have just finished reading the March, 2006, issue of Pulpit Helps. One of the articles that really caught my attention is the cover story "God's Wake Up Call...Older Christians Are Leaving Churches." I agree wholeheartedly!!! I would like more info on the writer, Wayne J. Edwards. I would be interested in his book, Raising the Standard, and also more info on his ministry "Mature Ministries." Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated.

 

Greg Herndon, pastor
Troy First Baptist Church

Editor's note: Brother Edwards has given us permission to publish his e-mail address for those wishing to contact him. It is wnledwards@alltel.net.

There Has Always Been Change

I am a new pastor who sees the need for a shift in our ministry focus toward a younger generation and we are paving the way for that movement. The older generation has been concerned seeing no new growth in years and are on board with this change. The message is the same, the method isn't, and this isn't discouraging, it's encouraging to them, as they haven't been this excited in years as we see the prodigals returning.

If the older generation is "living on meat" they should be the ones feeding the new Christians and raising them up, keeping in mind that ministry back in the old days was done differently to speak to a particular generation. Why must we insist that the methods we have been using are somehow "holy" and above change? I refuse to serve tradition; I'd rather serve truth! The only thing "holy" is the message. All church styles (preaching and musical) were at one time contemporary. Jesus used the teaching tools that were popular in His day; Jesus was "cutting-edge!"

I applaud the use of multi-media and drama from the pulpit because it is how we communicate everywhere we turn in life.

The older generation should embrace the change and be a part of it. If they are leaving the church after years of service, they were never committed to the Great Commission in the first place or have sadly forgotten about it.

Eric M. Harless
Halsey, Oregon

Learning Has Changed

Edwards is fueling the fire that is killing churches across America. What he is saying is that methods should never change, that we must live with 1950s church cultures ... and that if we try to adapt to reach people for Christ we are wrong. Churches die because church members refuse to breakout of comfort zones... 80% of Christians do not have a relationship with a lost neighbor or friend. To reach people we must have an outward vision.

It's not about music, but language. D. R. Hendricks of Dallas Theo. recently said, "We have a generation which thinks with its feelings & learns with their eyes." The Mosaic generation (those born since 1974) learns in a visual method. The public school system shifted 30 years ago from a Greek form of teaching to an Eastern form of teaching. The truth is that the Bible was written in an Eastern form of expression: word pictures (parables). This generation learns naturally the way the Bible was written ... so we must adapt our method of teaching to connect truth to them.

Bruce Porterfield of New Tribes shared with me a couple of years ago that we must learn the language of those we are trying to reach. Then translate the gospel into terms which the unchurched can understand. Any one who has served overseas with unchurched people groups gets this. We no longer live in a churched culture. We must, if we are to reach them, go where they are. Our command was go & preach, not build it & they will come. But pastors build Christian caves where we pull away from the world & avoid contact with lost people.

I take strong offense to this article. It sends a message: give into the itching ears of our members, give them the soft comfort zones they desire.  Don't change or adapt to culture.

By the way, no contact info at the end of the article. If you had it, I would have blasted him directly, instead of troubling you.

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Pastor Chuck Kieffer
The Foundry
Wallingford, Pa

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