Faith, the Internet, and Post-Christendom


\"3424_3424_5\"Article by Guest Blogger, Christopher King |

I recently heard the statement, “Our society is no longer simply post-modern; it’s post-Christian,” meaning that we are no longer in a society where Christianity is the dominant religious influence. This doesn’t mean that Christianity is dead and no longer relevant. However, it does mean that increasingly our society’s social, political, and economic climate is less influenced by the Christian values that once served as the foundation for all things American.

Unfortunately, this statement wasn’t as shocking to me as I maybe had hoped as the term “post-Christian” has been circulating since the late 1800’s. However, its effects have brought about certain realities that, as a young pastor of millennials, I have to contend with that many of my predecessors were able to avoid. In fact, there are major components of this post-Christian society that have adjusted the way that I must pastor and lead the next generation to an understanding of their spiritual identity and purpose. While rarely acknowledged, the internet has had a dramatic effect on my approach to pastoring the next generation.

As a young child, I grew up in church. Monday, we had church meetings. Tuesday, there were mid-week services. Thursday, my mother had choir rehearsal. Friday and Saturday were youth events. And Sunday was an all day affair that often ended with an evening service that lasted well into the night. In that environment, I became very familiar with the bible stories, the Scriptures, and the specifics of Christian protocol. However, I found that in the structured religious environment of my childhood, there was little room for questions, which as a young man, I often had. But worse, there was no forum in which my questions could be answered even if they were allowed. To find answers to my questions, I could read the Bible, but that was the very thing that I had questions about. And besides, all of the thee’s and thou’s of the King James Version added more frustration to my plight. But today’s youth have the internet.

The internet has single-handedly erased the days of ‘believe it because the pastor said so’. Earlier, there was no forum to ask questions. Now, the internet serves as the forum to ask and get answers (right or wrong). Similarly how the internet has created a wave of thirty-minute physicians with sites like WebMD, the same effect has been seen within Christianity. Everyone’s now a theologian which has totally reduced the impact that traditional pastors have had on the people. Now, instead of going to church to learn, young people spend the worship time deciding what they do or don’t agree with based on what they read on the internet. Serving as the pillar of the institution of the church, the pastor becomes irrelevant. And now since the pastor and the church is irrelevant, the values that it promotes also suffer the same fate which further lead to a post-Christian society. This has and will continue to be an issue for up and coming pastors as myself. Therefore, to have an impact on the next generation, we must be prepared. We must have an awareness of what they have an awareness of. We must be prepared for their questions and be able to provide answers. We must be secure in our faith. And most importantly, we must be ready to lead them to an experience with God. In all the knowledge that they may receive from the internet, the one thing that the internet can’t provide is an experience with God.

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
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