“What kind of aroma do you give off?”
Many in the church are fully aware of the numbers of the millennial generation who are opting out of the church.
If the numbers are consistent with the gender disparity that we have become so accustomed to seeing in the church then this would mean that we are seeing a larger number of men from this generation opting out of a relationship with the church.
Philip Yancey, well known Christian author and journalist, writes about the unattractiveness of the church to the millennials: “My assignments as a journalist take me to places where Christians give off a perfumed aroma and places where Christians offend the nostrils.”
Yancey is saying that many congregations, regardless of their theological position, either give off an attractive aroma or an aroma that repels those who dare to visit their buildings or encounter those who represent their communities of faith.
John tells us. “If anyone boasts, ‘I love God and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.’ If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?”
The command we have from Christ is blunt: loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
When we love God and humanity we become willing to transform ourselves and our institutions to reflect more of what God desires so that more experience the gospel message as an attractive beckoning wooing presence of Christ.
Robert E. Quinn writes in his book Deep Change, “As fast, furious, and constant change takes root in our everyday work lives, putting pressure on both organizations and individuals to adapt or perish, many of us are choosing a dangerous tactic keeping our heads down, our mouths shut, and simply taking our paychecks to the bank—a no-passion, no-risk, no-commitment work ethic.”
I’m sad to say this, but, in many areas of our beloved United Methodist Church we are taking this approach rather than making the “deep change” in order to become truly loving.
We are challenged to create a sweet smelling aroma if we are to create a church culture that is attractive to everyone.
So how do we make the “deep change” that brings the sweet aroma?
Quinn lays it out in his book; but, one thing we can do in advance is to begin with prayer and confession.
I ask that you join me in doing that and then get the book and invite a few men to join you in prayerful study.
Let me know how it goes for you.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president
General Commission on United Methodist Men