By Olakunle Allison
Paradigm shifts in thinking and culture are inevitable. This is why I am very scared for Faith Institutions, especially the church. The Internet and most importantly the invasion of Social Media Platforms are changing the way we think and live. They in fact influence what we think. It would be too risky to continue to do things the same old way. Information Overload is here. This generation is constantly being bombarded with new thoughts and ideas. Many of them radical but refreshing. Old beliefs are set on the edge. Ancient systems are constantly under scrutiny; hostile scrutiny. The new is always desirable, the old is always scorned. This makes a more than 2,000 year old religious philosophy at even greater risk of scorn. And we are already witnessing some of the omens.Religious beliefs are under unprecedented threats and attacks; not deliberately but due to the inevitable change ushered to us by Science and Technology. Everyone is online- the good, the bad and the ugly. And everyone is also exposed because access to the internet is easier and cheaper today than it was a decade ago, and it would be cheaper still. The ripple effect is that ideas will clash. Worldviews will lock horns. And only the SENSIBLE and PROVABLE will win, not necessarily the TRUE!
This is where I sympathize in advance with the contemporary church. They are yet to wake up to the realities ahead. Very soon (and it’s already happening), no one would pay attention to the brand of faith the church preaches; the ‘believing without seeing’ only brand of faith or the ‘believe without proof’ kind of faith or the ‘don’t question God’ kind of faith. The coming generations will no longer buy that. The default mode of the coming Age will be Skepticism; Radical Skepticism.Unfortunately, majority of churches are stuck with the ‘old wineskin’ and the ‘old wine’. They sometimes see the handwriting on the wall but incapable of decrypting it. They cannot answer the ‘what does this mean for us?’ question. For instance, I find it very alarming and unsettling that in an epoch when we have Skype Chats, Online Conference Calls and Meetings, Facebook Live etc. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches still invest heavily in new church building space & projects. Nothing structurally happened to the old building, they just want an upgrade. A better, bigger and more exotic centre for worship.
In an epoch when the Internet can conveniently host millions of Live Participants all at once without packing them under one roof, the 21st Century church is still stuck with a dying paradigm. Rather than engaging their limitless divine resources to understand how to key into these wave of technologies and jettison old methods, they are still wasting funds on bricks, stones and pillars. It seems to me that the soul of the modern church is sold to buildings. Am I advocating that we demolish all buildings? Not at all. But they shouldn’t be building bigger ones, given the invasion of Social Media. The fact that they are still building shows that they are stuck in the past and are not being creative. And talking about demolishing things, the modern church should also be demolishing arguments (and imaginations). See II Corinthians 10:4-5. They should cast them down and make them obedient to Christ. Sadly, the art of arguing is the very thing the church does not know. They cast, bind, loose and kill but cannot logically and intelligently disabuse a skeptic from the errors in his imaginations and/or arguments.
Again, the vacuum created by the church in this wise is the reason atheism and skepticism have grown in leaps and bounds on the internet. There’s no gainsaying the fact that the church is not battle-ready for the escalating Internet Invasion into all spheres of life, thoughts and existence in general. The result? Radical skepticism. If I start a church today, many would think I hate the church because I would push it to uncharted territories and unfamiliar paths, just as God Himself promised in the Book of Isaiah.The church today is scared of embracing change, and this would signal its death knell.