Watch this video, then we’ll talk.
So I have been reading for the past couple of weeks for a series that I am co-teaching with Rick (my boss and senior preacher) next month. It’s been challenging, inspiring, depressing and exciting. We are looking at the how much the world is changing and how the way of Jesus looks and should look in a world that is moving so rapidly.
A couple of things stand out to me after a few weeks of reflection.
First, the church tends to be way behind the curve on innovation. That’s sad to me. It seems like we should be leading the charge in this. The resurrected Christ has opened to door to the re-creation of all things. And yet our communities of faith are some of the most stagnant places in culture.
Now I don’t want to be too hard on our churches, partly because the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. From globalization to the technological revolution, things aren’t like they were a hundred years ago. However, you can’t really tell that when you walk into many of our church buildings. I have been in too many churches that are one decade away from being a historical footnote.
Peter Gomes, a Harvard professor of religion, and a devout follower of Jesus, points out that churches are supposed to be engines of social and global change, instead we are bastions of conservativism. There is a kind of nostalgia that happens in a lot of churches, we develop the good ole days’ syndrome. We shut off what the younger generation is saying, while asking why they don’t want to be a part of what we are doing. Why is it that every generation seems to do to the next what they resented about the previous?
Second, this is partly the churches own fault. For the most part we have stifled or excommunicated our most creative people. It seems like, generally speaking, we have postured ourselves in a position of fear. Circle the wagons, head under the sand. One of the main problems with this is that this position is the exact opposite of faith.
We aren’t smoking what we are selling.
While this may seem harsh, I don’t mean it to be. There is plenty of despair and cynicism available today, I don’t want to add to that. I write this out of a great hope for the future of the movement of Jesus. We are in a time of open ended change and possibilities. What would it look like for the church to be herself in this time and place? The fact that many of my friends are turning to other forms of spirituality does not mean that the way of Jesus is deficient, but maybe it does reveal the poverty of how we talk about following Him.
For the next few Monday’s I am going to write about what I think it would look like to navigate the church in our changing climate. And I would like to get your input, since you have a computer, I assume that you are not oblivious to this.
So what do you think should/must change?
What must not change?
What will it look like to be the church for the coming generations? And how can we get there?