I am a sheltered Church Person. Although I am well aware that much of the world doesn’t believe in God, it still jolts me when someone says she/he doesn’t have the slightest interest in The Eternal. Frankly, I think we all secretly seek something Holy.
Last week at NEXTChurch, Rodger Nishioka spoke about what the 21st Century Church needs to know about human experience and the meaning of life. The Next Church absolutely must offer opportunities for:
Everybody – even those who do not believe they care about Holy Things – are seeking something Bigger. Although individual experiences inform our life’s purpose, the community around us is necessary to affirm and correct our interpretation of life experience. And we human beings have the capacity (thanks be to God) to experience God in our deepest souls and become Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
The Church has a unique role to be something like a Tour Guide. We human beings experience things – some wondrous and some heinous – and what we experience means something. Or it can mean something. God uses everything.
This is not merely about theories. An ancient story is ours today.
We can have academic chops. We can know dates and charts and the latest, greatest organizational theories. But if we cannot model, teach, and encourage transcendence, authentic relationships and incarnational ministry, we will never be a 21st Century Church.
There’s a lot of transition happening in The Church these days. As congregations call new pastors and and Mid-Councils (as we call them in my PCUSA denomination) call new leaders, understanding what Rodger Nishioka spoke about last week will make the difference between a thriving community and one that continues to go round and round in circles.
- Are we pointing to Something bigger than ourselves? (Yes, please.)
- Are we choosing relationships before reorganization? (It doesn’t matter how impressive our theories are if we cannot treat each other with authentic compassion and respect.)
- Are we embodying the Spirit of God in all we do? (Is this about us or about expanding the reign of God?)
Strategies are cold. Restructuring is impersonal. But God is calling us to be something different. It’s more fulfilling (albeit way harder) to be who we were created to be together. We call this Church.
Image of a group from Wheaton College (Norton, MA) touring South Africa. Note: The future Church will be lead by our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere from Africa, Asia, and South America.