The 500 Foot Wall

Rick Mattson Uncategorized 6 Comments

Derek and Amber are postmodern college students. They have entered your church for the first time, hoping to find spiritual reality, but a 500-foot wall appears to be blocking their way into the sanctuary.

From the “narthex,” you spot D and A. They look out of place here at church—baggy clothes, tattoos, tongue rings, I-pods. Confused yet confident.

An unmistakable 500-foot barrier separates them from you.

I believe the barrier is real. It’s a cultural barricade, actually. Compare the tendencies of these two cultures:

Question: What do we do with this 500-foot wall of separation?

Comments 6

  1. It helps to just own the wall. It also helps to be curious about Derek and Amber. What are they seeing through their post-modern lens? Evangelicalism as a modernist movement has some huge blind spots which Derek and Amber are going to help us to see. Connecting personally will help. Humility is critical. This isn't practical stuff, but its kind of an underlying tone to whatever practical outreach steps a church takes.

  2. Anonymous: I totally agree that the intangible “underlying tone” is really important in relating to D and A. The humility you suggest could propel us to ask them for their input about our church. Such a request would, in itself, be quite postmodern.

  3. It's easy to say that it will require humility and intentional relationships. But the real test of whether we really want to embrace Derek and Amber is action.

    I'm not too sure many people in the churhc are ready to accept a person for who they are with many of our cultural differences. These are things that can be embraced, of course.

  4. We desperately NEED young people like D and A. If we don't learn from them and grow in some new ways and set aside some old ways, our churches will die out with us. That may sound harsh or pessimistic, but it looks to me like the inescapable reality we're facing.

  5. A reaction from the gut, not really the head, and not intending to be negative but, its unlikely they would walk into my church…

    And that's maybe one of the reasons why my oldest daughter, who isn't quite Derek or Amber, doesn't walk into our church either.

    My daughter doesn't want to be associated with a Christianity that doesn't make Derek and Amber comfortable and welcome walking into our church.

    I would call this the 5 mile wall, not the 500 ft wall.

  6. I'm not sure that an attempt to combine such variant worldviews will be successful. Seems to me the two groups will always be speaking past each other.

    Rather, the challenge is for those who share and/or understand Derek and Amber's worldview to develop an elaboration and a vocabulary of Christianity which can speak into it. The First Evangelical Church could certainly be involved in that process, but an artificial requirement that the two disparate viewpoints need to be melded somehow (or one or the other to be imposed) is the path of making both antagonistic to the other.

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