Mindset Shift

Had a Duh Moment this morning:

I always thought Beloit College came up with their annual Mindset List to entertain the older generations with “Time sure flies!” information:  “Kids today have never seen a ‘real’ airline ticket!”

But I realized this morning that this practice is not done for our entertainment; it’s  done for the Beloit faculty to remind them who their students are.  This year, they were reminded that:

  • Incoming college freshmen have never used World Book encyclopedias,
  • Incoming college freshmen have always seen women in the roles of Secretary of State and Shuttle pilots,
  • Incoming college freshmen have saved their photos on digital yearbooks, smart phones, and Facebook pages.

So – thinking about church world –  is any of this reflected in the way we do worship?  And here’s a bigger question:

Is our worship gathering planned and executed for those who have always been there or for those who are not yet present?

Because – believe me – especially those from the college Class of 2016  who have never been church people will not connect to a spiritual community that reflects the mindset of the 20th Century, much less the 19th Century.

Most of our ministry is created and executed with a dusty mindset.  That’s okay if we want to minister only to those who are already with us – who tend to be older than 50.  “Inviting the young people” is a joke unless we are willing and ready to change our mindset.

It’s not about candles and screens either; it’s about serious cultural shifts.

  • If we say we are friendly but clearly don’t want strangers among us, we deserve to close as a church.  (Examples of not wanting strangers: we only talk to our friends on Sunday mornings, we don’t even see the new person or we ignore them; we see guests under the age of 40 as fresh meat or “targets”)
  • If we say we are “about mission” but have no relationships with the people outside our own doors who are broken, we deserve to close as a church.  (Examples:  Do we even know what breaks God’s heart in our neighborhood?  Are we aware of the issues the high school kids face in local schools?
  • If we say Jesus is our Lord and Savior but we continue to live the way we lived 20 or 40 or 60 years ago, we deserve to close as a church.  (Examples:  How have we been resurrected in the past decade as individuals and a community?  How has our behavior changed?  Are we still as stubborn/mean/selfish as ever?)

We can be entertained by The Mindset List, or we can shift our own mindsets as an act of hospitality.  For that matter, we can be entertained by church, or we can shift our mindsets as an act of devotion to God.

Image source. Go Tarheels.

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5 responses to “Mindset Shift

  1. I regularly encourage congregational leaders to make use of the Mindset List. It really is a helpful, non threatening way to open conversation about the importance of understanding our changed reality. But your follow up points is where the rubber really meets the road.

  2. Is our worship gathering planned and executed for those who have always been there or for those who are not yet present?

    A few years ago we replaced our ancient rusting lawn sign missing half its letters… to a firestorm of controversy “We don’t need a new sign”
    Indeed “we” don’t… Thanks again for consistently asking good questions and encouraging us to take the answers seriously

  3. “Most of our ministry is created and executed with a dusty mindset. That’s okay if we want to minister only to those who are already with us – who tend to be older than 50.”Inviting the young people” is a joke unless we are willing and ready to change our mindset.”

    Your whole post hit home in so many ways but that statement above made me want to jump up and shout “Amen!” In two weeks the congregation I currently participate in will be discussing the use of the sanctuary because an outside group moved all the chairs out and all the sofas from the youth room in creating a welcoming, relevant atmosphere for the mostly 20 year old’s in the group. A couple of the over-50 crowd are shouting loud at the “mis-use” of the sanctuary. (The group had permission, was a christian group that had been ministering in the area all summer and moved everything right back where it belonged.) They are also the same people who wonder why there aren’t any young people in the church. Well….

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