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Recent studies have shown an American Church in decline. It is the belief of this author that the principles of institutionalism practiced by the twenty-first century Church could be factors in this decline. To reclaim Kingdom values the celebration of the imago Dei must be restored. Research shows that teenagers are leaving the Church after high school and emerging adults are leaving faith in and after college. Furthermore, this age group largely has been neglected by intergenerational adults. But there are others that are abdicating the church as well.
Senior adults, the disabled, their families, single adults and single-parent families share the same sentiments of neglect and have a hard time finding their place in an ill-equipped Church. The sexually traumatized are more likely to leave the Church as well. The Church must ask why the marginalized of society further marginalized. Also, why has the Church not learned from the days of Constantine and the Crusades that it must be a living breathing body and not a mandated structure of hierarchy and power?
The compelling love and life of the early church demonstrates humility by breaking bread together, sharing everything and waiting in prayer on the Holy Spirit. Jesus engages sinner and saint, child and adult, woman and man illustrating egalitarian principles, and celebrating the imago Dei. Embodying the counter-cultural Kingdom of God in the present context should be the mission of an adoptive church caring for the marginalized. This church should incorporate adolescents, and every other age and people group into its fabric and family. This church believes in compassionate community. It is a place where power, capitalism and consumerism are challenged. Humility, love, generosity and simplicity must reign. Celebrating the imago Dei with no exceptions will help the Church resist and dismantle institutionalization.
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
institutionalism, imago Dei, teenagers, leaving church, faith
Material is subject to copyright.
Garner, Teresa Beth, "The Decline of the Church in North America Calls for Creativity and the Celebration of the Imago Dei" (2018). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 296.