Everything. I. Read. these days is fundamentally about this question.
I just finished the Bonhoeffer chapter in Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times by Nancy Koehn and have just realized (!) that Bonhoeffer was a postmodern Christian:
In Bonhoeffer’s eyes, a church that existed for others, that sought to embody Christ’s concern with those who suffered, was not primarily concerned with its own survival or aggrandizement. Nor was it a community of ascetics or saints living in monastic seclusion—quite the opposite. The Christian life, he argued, was rooted in being truly human, in anchoring oneself in what he termed “this-worldliness.”
For the last twenty years, I’ve been asking churches the question, “Does your church exist for your congregation or for the people outside your walls who need the love of God?” In healthy congregations, the answer is “both” but one is always dominant.
If our congregation exists dominantly for its own members, then we are dying. And we basically deserve to die. We have missed the point of the Gospel.
I don’t mean to bum everybody out on Fat Tuesday, but this is important on the cusp of Lent. We live in a time when innocent immigrant young adults are being threatened with deportation from the only country they’ve known. We live in a time when the poor in our own great nation are being threatened with an ever increasingly level of shaming. We live in a time when corporations are blessed with more benefits than human beings in need, with the premise that corporate profits will eventually aid individuals. (This is has been proven to be untrue. Corporate profits overwhelmingly aid those in the corporation.)
This is a blog for people who – generally – want to follow Jesus.
So . . do we want to follow Jesus or don’t we? If we do, then this is why our congregations exist. Our world craves community, security, nourishment, and wholeness. What are our congregations doing to offer these gifts?
Image of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who continues to be a good read for Lent.
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