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Other signs of the Olympic spirit

It is evident already that the 2010 Winter Olympic Games have given Canada a new place of prominence.

It is evident already that the 2010 Winter Olympic Games have given Canada a new place of prominence.Impressive athletic accomplishments performed against a kaleidoscopic background of pristine Canadian beauty have served well to renew our deep sense of national pride and patriotism.Otherwise reserved Canadians are enthusiastically waiving the Canadian flag, spontaneously singing, O Canada, and shouting extravagant praise for the nation.Based partly on the success of our Games, it seems evident that a new generation of Canadians is preparing to move our nation forward - "faster, higher, stronger."

It never ceases to amaze how newer generations, using a variety of innovations, are able to build upon the accomplishments of the past to further human aspiration. In a sense, this is also true in the Church.Just as some might conclude that the Church is becoming antiquated and irrelevant, a new generation is demonstrating that the Christian faith is more vibrant and relevant than ever. While scores of older churches have been forced to close, it is also evident that there is a groundswell of interest in all things spiritual that is also giving rise to new forms of church life and community. A new generation promises to seek answers for old questions in new ways that in the process will move the church forward.

Sociologically speaking, much of the change now taking place in the church is due to big shifts in popular culture.The recent very rapid advance in technology and media has made it possible for the emergence of many new forms of art and communication.In this Information Age, as it is called, old structures of authority are giving way to grass-roots movements of understanding.Churches that expect to thrive among the younger generation will need a radical change in their approach to ministry.

For one thing, a newer generation focuses on experience that satisfies immediate need. This is also true in the matter of Christian faith. Young folks are less interested in rationalist explanations about life than they are in what works. For them credibility does not rest in positions of authority but with those who demonstrate authenticity. This means that churches need to be less institutional in their approach to ministry. Communication needs to be less formal, less authoritarian.Intelligent explanation needs to be accompanied by a demonstration of the reality of the Gospel message. Young people will participate in the life of the church when they know they can find genuine relationships in the context of sensible explanations of truth.

It is fascinating to observe the ever-widening impact of the current Olympic Games on the Canadian psyche due to the efforts of our young athletes. Similarly, it is evident that the Church is poised for a new era of progress as a younger generation seeks to understand the old Gospel message and finds new applications of its reality.

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