The Church and Christianity has been changing the world we live in for hundreds of years; from the Crucifixion of Jesus, the reign and conversion of Constantine, to the teachings of Martin Luther, history has been impacted by the Church and its leaders throughout much of history.
But the Church has also gone through some drastic changes over the years as the culture around it is constantly developing. Some may say the Church will always be stuck in its ways, but is that really true? This is not to say that God or Christianity its self has changed, (I believe that God is unchanging) but instead that by human error and our natural tendency to corrupt things, the way we carry out that faith has continuously changed. Growing up in the church, I have even seen it transform. Here are 4 ways the church has changed in just the 21st century.
1. "Relationship" is the new "religion."
For as long as Christianity has existed it's been corrupted by this idea of religion that is less about the God that Christians follow, and more about the subscribers of the religion themselves. Religion has caused people in the Christian faith to become self-righteous, wage wars, push people away, and consequentially miss the whole point. We have all seen the worst of the church through out history. But thankfully, many believers have noticed this corruption of their faith an will not tolerate it any longer. A great number of Christians are deciding to rid of religion and trade it for a relationship with God with the understanding that this was the way it was intended to be all along. The first evidence of this change that I was able to witness on social media was in 2012 when Jefferson Bethke, an author, speaker, and Youtuber posted a video titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." This video consists of his spoken word poetry and now has over 33 Million views on YouTube. In my opinion, it perfectly illustrates this idea of the Church loving God and people instead of being all about rules.
2. Christian music is seriously killing the game
Don't believe me? Check out Wildfire by Fuse, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, Testify by Jervis Campbell, or So Will I by Hillsong. Christian music was still only organs and hymns until the movement of new Christian music in the 1970s. This is when artists started making Christian music sound a lot more aligned with pop culture, yet with lyrics that were all about Jesus. Since then, it has only continued to revolutionize with bands like Hillsong United, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and the list goes on. Even artists like Justin Bieber are noticing these songs. Last month at the Coachella music festival, Justin Bieber covered some popular Christian worship songs at one of the events. Seeing a major celebrity praising God at a festival is certainly not something you see everyday.
3. It seems like everyone is a hipster.
I know it can't just be me that has noticed this sort of "hipster plague" that has come over the Church. It is possible that this is only really a thing in non-denominational churches like my own, but we all know that Christian who always posts those super hip "Sunday OOTD" Snapchats, or those trendy Bible study photos on Instagram. I can't lie, I am probably one of those people. There is no doubting that social media and fashion trends have played a huge part in this aspect of modern-day Church transformation. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that many Christians take after the style of influential churches like Hillsong and Bethel, whose leaders just so happen to be extremely stylish. Now when we think about the modern day church-goer, we no longer envision a perfectly ironed dress and stockings. But instead, it's common to see people show up to Sunday service wearing ripped jeans and Vans.
4. Acceptance is becoming common doctrine.
God Is Love Sign
It seems that many who grew up in the church before acceptance became prevalent were pretty badly burned by the hypocrisy that their religious leaders and communities displayed. Why preach about a savior "who so loved the world" if all we do as Christians is tell others the world they aren't good enough? The successors of this wounded generation decided to finally be the change in the Church and start spreading a message of love. The majority of churches now have doors wide open for anyone to join. Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong church expressed this sentiment well when he said "my prayer is that we replace anger, criticism, hatred and intolerance with love, understanding, acceptance and kindness. Jesus taught us that holding firm to our convictions, and respecting and appreciating other people who hold different views, are not mutually exclusive." Of course, the Church is still not perfect–and it never will be, but these strides towards becoming more like Jesus and extending love to everyone helps immensely in making this world a better place.