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Keynote: Faith in a Secular Age

By Beth Fulmer

Dr. Andy Root discussed a very difficult problem with some interesting observations. What does ministry look like now in today’s world? Along with many people in this era, he broached the subject of ministry and technology and how they intertwined. He said that ministry was not technology; however, technology “framed our imagination.” According to Root, everything is a problem and there is an answer to every problem. Technology is a science that answers every problem.

With that said, how do we pass faith on to the next generation? What is new that will produce spiritual growth in this age of technology? Pastors have always struggled and the problems have shifted and differed over time; however, in ages past, there was always the understanding that God was real; people believed that they interacted with something beyond what they could see and feel. For many now, that belief is non-existent.

Root told some interesting stories, one of which was about a boy whose dog had died. Extremely upset, the boy fell into the arms of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran minister). The young child wanted to know where his dog was now. Bonhoeffer consoled the boy by holding him close, listening, and letting him cry. Root also had other narratives to make the point that giving a person space and listening were often all that was needed. (Bonhoeffer lived in the early 1900’s.)

Andy Root is a professor at Luther Seminary. He has written several books; one of which is “The Pastor in a Secular Age: Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God” (Baker Academic, 2019). He was a fascinating speaker who identified many questions that pastors in this day and age are asking.

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