I first learned about Carol Harold Merrit doing research on the feelings of Gen-X’ers in the church. I found her book, Tribal Church, and resonated with her views on how people of my generation see the church and its importance in their lives.
In Reframing Hope she continues to resonate by connecting with the continuing frustrations with the church, but also looks to the hope that still exists.
People are looking for answers, and they are looking in new ways.
Carol’s research is well done as she pulls insights from many sources. She reminds us of the recent history of our churches in the early 20th century and how how things look different today in our suburbanized cities. The landscape that has shifted as roles and societal expectations have changed over the last few generations in North America.
Storytelling, once the greatest witness tool used by Christians became largely unused, but she finds in recent years it has found itself regaining in popularity as people begin to look for connections through many tools at their disposal.
The world looks to new sources for connecting with others who have similar views. It has new concerns around the environment and social justice. Technology has enabled younger North Americans to connect and share in ways never seen before. This is a departure from the norm for many churches, although the tide is changing and she encourages us to explore opportunities to connect these new concerns with traditional Christian practices.
Carol give us many thoughts to chew on as all churches are facing the same challenges; declining membership, aging congregations and buildings, increasing disconnect with young adults.
All is not lost. Carol encourages us in her writing to seek new opportunities yet still valuing the rich history and wisdom of those who built our churches.
The church still has lots to offer, our hope is in our ability to see beyond our traditions and work with those who seek to find spiritual nourishment.
This book is a great resource for churches who are feeling lost and unsure of their own future as the community they are located is far different than the one in which they began in decades, or even hundreds of years ago. If you are looking for something to get some discussion started on the needs of Gen-X’ers today and how the church may interact with them, then this book needs to be considered.