The Mushy Middle series: on theology and discipleship

… a series of posts on politics, church life, culture, theology-discipleship, and ministry

It seems that it’s not only the mushy middle in politics, church life, and culture, that are being pushed out, but also the mushy middle in theology.  It used to be that generations of Christians stuck with the church/denomination of their parents.  However, this is also the way of the mushy middle.  Today, Christian young people are moving around from one church to another (church hopping) because they have a spiritual need that is not filled.  They want a theology that is stable, rock solid, and not one that’s wishy-washy and changes with the times.  Pastors and denominational leaders in established mainline churches hate it when we lose the few devoted sheep whom we are desperately trying to hold onto.  We end up accusing other churches (e.g., charismatic/evangelical that tend to be missional) of sheep stealing.

The fact is that it was never a matter of “sheep stealing” in the first place; rather, it was a matter of not adequately feeding our own sheep. Hungry sheep are always looking for green pastures to feed on.  Many parishioners, especially in our post-modern age, who really do care about their own spiritual growth do not care so much about which church they are attending, as long as, they are growing in faith and deepening their spirituality. I know this because I am a product of this myself.  We, who are ministry leaders and clergy, need to be actively engaging and providing our sheep with substantial “spiritual food” to deepen the faith of our own flock. Otherwise, we will lose hungry sheep to “greener pastures”.

In most cases, “sheep stealing” might not an appropriate description of what is happening.  Even the very churches that are experiencing growth are also experiencing big fluctuations within their attendees; however, it doesn’t bother them because they accept what is happening, and they are adapting quickly enough to improve their methods of ministry and discipleship.  Today, it is no longer “the big eat the small”; it is “the fast eat the slow”, as Pastor Mark Driscoll says.

My point in this post is this.  The mushy middle in theology and discipleship also seems to be in the process of being pushed out.  Today’s generations of young Christians in this post-modern culture are willing and able to join Christian communities where they can deepen their Christian faith and spirituality.  Wishy-washiness is no longer tolerated.  It’s time to say “bye bye” to the mushy middle attitute.

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