A long time ago in that little church on the hill outside of middle America the trendy motif was the necktie. Neckties spoke of tradition, reverence, conservative values, and (until the 70s when those awful paisley prints on ties became popular) conservative fashions. I remember hearing in "yesterday's" church, "We never did it that way before" - the seven last words of the "funding fathers" (and as long as the funding fathers of the church kept the budget balanced, no one dared challenge them). But then the 60's and the 70's washed over the little church like a tidal wave colored by hippy freedom and libertarian possibilities. The little church that had nursed itself on evangelical pragmatism intoxicated with a passion for numbers could not resist the "whatever works" mentality of the new era. Suddenly acoustical guitars were replacing the organ as the primary instrument of melodious accoutrement behind stained glass windows. In the summer, when the windows of the church were opened, the soft strains of "Cum Ba Yah" could be heard across the valley as the sanctuary choir sang sincerely and sweetly even though they had no idea what "Cum Ba Yah" meant - they traded their "Ebenezer" for latest contemporary chorus. Suddenly the evangelical landscape was dotted with Christian bookstores selling Jesus t-shirts, bumper stickers; the air waves were filled with Christian music that followed cultural trends, and preachers learned to market the gospel instead of preach the gospel. The neckties had turned into blue jeans. Now it was the blue jean era where God was cool, doctrine was out, preaching turned to sharing, and the worst thing a church could do was to not be "cutting edge." Once, if a young man entered the church with long hair, earrings, a dirty shirt, and blue jeans with holes in them, you would send him to the pastor. Now he is the pastor!
Now church is niched for age groups, life experiences, and whatever seems to be trendy and culturally fashionable. Now people in the church, wearing their blue jeans and flip-flops, drinking their lattes from Starbucks want nothing to do with neckties or their dad's way of doing church. Today is the day when anything goes in church except what has been done in church from the last generation. It is basically a form of modified teenage-like rebellion. The contemporary Christian scene has institutionalized the attitude of "I don't want to think, act, talk or be like my dad." One of the most surprising elements of this not-so-impressive trend is how angry younger aged Christians are with anything related to the previous generation. They despise patriotism to America, the moral and ethical values of their parents, and expository preaching. They want nothing to do with the established church; church planting is all the rage.
Of course, nothing is as consistent as change. The question is, "What does the coming generation rebel against? What comes from the 'Latte, blue jean, flip-flop' church?" I'm kind of scared, kind of curious, kind of ready to close up shop. Some days that little cabin on the mountain looks really, really good.