Friday, September 13, 2013
One advantage to getting a bit older is that you see fads and trends not only emerge but also re-emerge in the church. Greg Smith’s “vision” for the church in 2010 sounds basically the same as things I’ve been hearing in certain circles since the 1970′s
The only truly new realities Smith factors in are big changes in the way we use technology and the pragmatic realization that churches cannot go on funding ministries in the ways we’ve been doing it for the past couple of generations. Otherwise, I find most of this simply to be recycled church renewal material, repackaged for a new era.
Michael Spencer used to say often: “ I believe the way forward for [the church] is the way back to the roots of the broader, deeper, more ancient, more ecumenical church, not forward into more of what [churches] have been doing the last 50 years.”
Greg Smith is not showing us that way here. While I do believe we need to think carefully about such things as the place of technology in our churches, the challenge of funding ministries in a post-Christian society, and the way we balance individual and institutional life, in my opinion we need less of this “forward” thinking and more faithful incorporation of practices of the church that have stood the test of time. Most of all we need to focus on the present grunt work that needs to happen day in and day out, doing the actual work of the church in the midst of our congregations and out in our communities.The thing that bothers me about the Smith piece to which Chaplain Mike refers, and all such "follow the trends" articles - is just that, they follow trends. It seems to me that the church is not supposed to follow, but to lead.
Think about it - the church converted the Roman Empire and moved it from Rome to Constantinople. The church made Europe as we know it today. The church, in many guises founded America. The church shaped the world.
Now it seems as though we sit at the feet of Bill Gates and whathisname that founded Facebook and try to figure out how to fit into their world.
That, dear friends is a crisis of faith, pure and simple. We do not shape the world because we do not believe we can.
God, grant us the faith to believe we can change the world.
change church culture faith