Carson Nyquist and his dad J. Paul have just written a book titled: The Post-Church Christian: dealing with the generational baggage of our faith which is a book about exactly what the title says (which in todays world is oddly unusual).
This book is phenomenal and I highly recommend it to any and all. Much of what this book brought about are things that I, as a Millennial have been dealing with and talking about from time to time, but I have certainly not been this clear or spoken quite as well as the issues at hand as these two have.
Carson’s portions in particular spoke deeply to me and I desired to take some of his quotes and unpack them here. This endeavor I will admit is more selfish in nature as I seek to unpack big ideas and help formulate the impact and application for myself. However, I hope to display it here to get interaction and also help promote this great work…because it truly is really well done!
I plan on doing several posts of “Excerpts From The Post-Church Christian” because there is just so much content to work with. So, I will begin with chapter one.
Carson says on page 22: “My generation has been frustrated and hurt by a Christian community and subculture that sometimes values perfection over faith. And it maks sense–our struggles are often not heard or welcome. Instead of grace being the common thread, the church has replaced it with moral and religious standards”
I couldn’t agree more with Carson on this issue. Religiosity has become the standard for many churches. Rather than being in love with Jesus, they are in love with the rules and base their understanding of God’s love in light of their performance. It’s easy to see why the church has gotten to this place, but it is definitely antithetical to the way in which many millennial’s are trying to live now. Rules and regulations instead of love speak to the heart of a millennial the way catnip speaks to the heart of a dog. They either despise it or simply desire to be away from it.
The best way I can describe this is from a lecture I learned in college called “Bounded Set, Centered Set”. Many non-millennial’s fall into the bounded set, while millennial’s fall more into the center set (or they desperately desire to).
Bounded Set is the ideology of Christianity as represented by a fence. The fence is the set of rules and regulations that stem from Biblical values, but have themselves overtaken relationship. The thought for many is how close to the fence can I get and still receive the love I need (or for some “elder brother types”, the love I deserve)? It becomes about what they can and can’t do, rather than Who they know and are known by.
Centered Set is based off of our relationship and proximity to Jesus. It doesn’t matter who is closer or farther, as long as we are all facing towards the Son. In this type of focus, when someone falls, we notice and care. In the Bounded Set, it just causes others to judge and look down on those fallen, noticing they came too close to the fence and not wanting to be labeled as “one of those”.
This I believe is the essence of Carson’s statement and why it rings true with the Millennial generation…the majority of the church is at odds with the majority of the Millennials in approaching both Jesus and the Scriptures. Again, to describe this I think seeing yet another picture could be of use.
In the movie Saved, Mandy Moore throws her Bible at a young teen who just got pregnant. She throws it at her as a weapon hoping to have the rules pierce the young teen girl. The girl, who used to be “in” with the Christians girl picks up the Bible and says something to the effect of “This is not a weapon” and in that sense, she had a point. The Word is a love letter calling people back to their Creator, not a thrashing weapon to abuse people into obedience. I know the Bible is called a double edged sword, and in this picture it is discussing conviction, not shame mind you. Yet it is a conviction of love.
Carson and his dad bring about so many great points in this book! I hope you continue to check in on this series and engage in some discussion! Go ahead and agree or disagree and by all means: BUY THE BOOK HERE!