I grew up in a healthy church in the 1950s and 60s.  It was gospel-centered before we used those terms.  I can remember some wonderful things.

I remember when churches were not commodities but communities.  I grew up in a spiritual neighborhood, where the adults took responsibility to care for the next generation.  I lived among hundreds of spiritual aunts and uncles who loved me, told me about Jesus, corrected me when I got out of line and generally sacrificed for me so that I could grow up to be a man of God.

I remember when the Bible was cherished as so sacred that we treated the very leather and paper as “The Holy Bible.”  We read the Bible, sang the Bible, prayed the Bible, memorized the Bible, heard the Bible preached, and learned the Bible from cover to cover.  I grew up knowing my way around the Bible — and knowing that it mattered supremely and eternally.

I remember when this crucial question was always close at hand in our collective and personal consciousness: Is your life fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ?  My spiritual teachers did not hope I might fit Jesus into the margin of my crowded life.  They confronted me, lovingly, gently, insistently, that Jesus is Lord.  I needed to know that.  No one else would have told me.  Thank God they did.

I remember when we prayed together, the whole church together.  I grew up listening to adults pray mature, adult prayers.  They showed reverence and depth and faith that with God nothing is impossible.

I remember when we tithed.  And in our home, if because of our tithing we didn’t have enough money ourselves to make it to the end of the month, we still tithed.  Jesus came first.  Period.  And with no self-pity but with privilege.

We were uncool.  We really did need some refreshing in our music and communication, and so forth.  But there was also something real and solid and powerful there.  We must never lose it.