If you haven't been watching the new CBS reality show, Kid Nation, you really should be. It's a great one to watch with the kids, too. It has sparked some interesting discussions with our family. If you don't know, the premise of the show is 40 kids (age 8-15) for 40 days in a ghost town with no adults. Basically the experiment is let's see what kind a civilization they build for themselves and how they handle life without supervision.
This week's episode seriously should be shown to every church or at least the leadership of every church. The whole episode was basically what to do with the question of religion. The kids come from diverse backgrounds - mostly Christian, a handful of Jews, a handful of atheists, 1 Hindu, and a handful of "other".
Four kids serve as the town council and each week are given a suggestion from a fake journal supposedly left behind by the town's former old west inhabitants. This week's suggestion was to consider providing a religious service (or services) for the town. The council decided to schedule a religious service where everyone could come and share about their own religion and then spend time in prayer/meditation together. When this was announced, it was flatly rejected by the entire town and nobody showed up to service that was organized by the council. However, later that night, a grass roots sort of thing happened and a big number of the kids decided to meet together for prayer. It was mostly Christian, but a Jewish kid said a Jewish prayer and the Christian kids were really moved by it.
Every week there's a team challenge and if all teams finish the challenge in an allotted time, the town gets a reward. This week the town could choose either to have a miniature golf course in the town or a library of "holy books" (the Bible, Torah, Koran, and others). The town was not happy with the council's decision the previous week, so the council let the town choose this week. To my surprise (and the council's) the kids overwhelmingly chose the holy books. Many of them spent time reading them later. They saw them as an important way to better themselves.
The reason this episode is so important is because it shows us as a church that the "coming storm" of postmodernism is here - NOW! These kids that represent a cross-section of American adults 10 years from now flatly rejected "organized religion", but enthusiastically embraced "faith". If the church is going to influence the culture, it must undergo a serious facelift. Organized religion needs to be left behind and the church needs to become more of a grass roots type of movement. We are going to have to stop going to church, and start being the church. The hand-writing is definitely on the wall and we need to respond.
I hope you'll be able to see more of this episode on YouTube in the future, but until then, here's the promo clip for it. (Thanks to D. Scott Miller who pointed out that the entire episode can be viewed at CBS.com.)