The Lighthouse more attractive to young people
SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:
Young people in the 21st century are joining non-traditional churches, according to Bishop Rowan Edwards of the Lighthouse Assemblies Church in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
"You find young people nowadays gravitating towards our church because the style of worship is different from the traditional churches that follow a prescribed pattern," Bishop Edwards told Family and Religion.
"Young people have a different mindset about worship, they are in the era of the social media, they are on the Internet and facebook, you have to meet them where they are," Edwards told Family and Religion.
Other than the stylistic approach to worship, and the requirements of repenting of one's sins, getting baptised (immersing in water), and seeking the Holy Spirit as preconditions to salvation, he pointed to an element of flexibility and the moving of the Spirit that is driving the increase in membership of the younger population.
"The moving of the Spirit of the Lord, the moving of the power, it is more flexible in our churches to have the manifestation of the power of God."
Added Bishop Edwards: "The charisma, the kinds of laughter, the joy, the happiness and the kinds of functions that the young people are able to enjoy in our churches make a lot of difference."
Responding to whether the message of salvation preached in non-traditional churches has been watered down in an effort to get members, the Spanish Town Apostolic Bishop said all the churches preach the same message.
"Nothing is wrong with the message, it is the same message of salvation that is preached in traditional churches, it is how it is presented," he stated.
Using the analogy of a soft drink container that formally was made of glass, but is now been made of plastic, Edwards said, all they do is change the container.
"The content remains the same but the container is different, it is the same message we all preach, but how it is delivered will have the greatest impact on the young people."
LIVELY AND ENGAGING
"If you put a young person in a traditional church, you will notice that he acts different, when that same person is placed in a non-traditional church where worship is lively and engaging, you will see that person acting with joy and not appearing to be bored," he stated.
He scoffed at the argument that leaders of non-traditional churches are largely uneducated, making it possible for anyone without formal training in ministry to lead; a situation that has been suggested to be a pull factor for membership in these churches.
"This argument is not true, we are seeing an increase in membership of professionals, lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals to our church," he noted.
"The amount of professionals we have in non-traditional churches far outnumbered that of traditional churches, it has nothing to do with that factor."
"In fact, these professionals are more drawn to our church because of what is happening in them," Edwards told Family and Religion.