what we shall be?

i’ve written a great deal in this space about trends in the church (from my stilted, american perspective).  i’ve read thom rainer and reggie mcneal and george barna and alan hirsch.  our best effort at church (called “the contemporary church growth model” and “the attractional church model” ) is obviously not the answer.  the chasm between church and culture is wide and growing wider every day.  it has become clear (to me, anyway) that “church as we know it” is not “church as it shall be.”  if we’re going to impact society, we’ve got to learn to think in radically different ways.

in a recent post, out of ur quoted several influential leaders (and while the quotes speak for themselves, the editors added some hilarious comments…i will include them where appropriate).  in case you missed it, i’ll share a few here.

“I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with the church growth principles we’ve developed . . . yet somehow they don’t seem to work.” – C. Peter Wagner, a leading spokesmen for the church-growth movement.

“For evangelicals, if children and youth are not enjoying church, it is the church’s fault and evangelical parents either find a new church or try to improve their youth ministry. For liberals, the tendency is the reverse; if youth do not find church interesting, it is their problem.” -James Wellman, author of Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest

(A good reminder that the call of the Christian life is to enjoy church. –Url Scaramanga)

“There certainly is a dominant demographic faith profile of Christians in the nation. The typical profile of an involved Christian is a married woman in her early fifties.” – David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group

(Perfect if our mission is to make disciples of Martha Stewart. –Url Scaramanga)

“In a recent survey of 1,000 church attenders, respondents were asked, ‘Why does the church exist?’ According to 89 percent, the church’s purpose was ‘to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.’ Only 11 percent said the purpose of the church is ‘to win the world for Jesus Christ.’” – Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.

(Alrighty then. Good night, folks. Would the last person to leave the church in America please turn off the lights? –Url Scaramanga.)

the next manifestation of church will look nothing like church of today.  and, if we have the courage to pursue it, will be exceptionally costly (in every sense of the word) and will probably make us intensely uncomfortable.

is that okay with us?


8 thoughts on “what we shall be?

  1. It’s more than ok. It’s what I want to be a part of more than anything else in this life. I just wish knowing things need to change and knowing I want to be a part of it helped me know what it’s supposed to look like and what I’m supposed to do to move in the new direction…

  2. Mere Churchianity is giving me some thoughts to consider on this front.

    As for my thoughts on this post, I am convinced that the global church is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is those people who hunger after God and pursue Him.

    The local manifestation of the church gathering is what has been confused in function and form. We are a comfortable lot afraid to challenge the status quo. When someone does raise a question or challenge, rejection by the powers-that-be creates apathy or abandonment in the person who just wants to know the why of it all.

    In short, we want to worship and serve in a manner that meets our needs or wants instead of reflecting God’s glory in our lives. We ARE the church of Ichabod.

    Now.. to another matter. Would you consider doing a guest spot on my blog?

    • “we want to worship and serve in a manner that meets our needs or wants instead of reflecting God’s glory in our lives.” so true, tony.

      and i’ll be honored to do something on your blog. just let me know where and when.

  3. Reading and discussing The Screwtape Letters with a friend and it’s interesting to me in the first letter Satan is training a demon on how to hold people in bondage. He says basically, don’t even argue with thoughts that come into the person’s minds that are from God. Arguing puts the work on God’s territory because it causes the person to think to question statu quo. If the person begins to question, we, (demons) may loose our influence. Tell them lies to keep them comfortable where they are in “real life”. Satan says, “You don’t realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary”. Interesting…

    I will have to say that I don’t know what we ( the genuine church) is supposed to look like but I have an idea. I have experienced short times of involvment. But, I am quite confident I know what it doesn’t look like. Can I be so bold to rely on the truth that resides in me? Can I be so bold as to trust the deity dwelling in me? (Colossians 2) After all, He said He would lead us into truth….just some thoughts.

  4. Great post. I can’t say anything else because I feel like part of the problem.

    “the next manifestation of church will look nothing like church of today. and, if we have the courage to pursue it, will be exceptionally costly (in every sense of the word) and will probably make us intensely uncomfortable.”

    this paragraph may turn out to be prophetic.

  5. I know my attitude is cynical (sp?) but isn’t the present condition of “church” exceptionally costly? Please forgive me and I probably am dealing with a good dose of pride but those are the questions that come to mind. And, I have never been more uncomfortable trying to be a part of something as I have trying to find my place in the American church since my return from abroad. And, I believe the true church is extremely uncomfortable trying to navigate in the institution that the church has become. We, they, I may live in fear not wanting to be labeled subversive, trouble-maker, sand-paper, heretic (sp?) etc. Sorry, just sharing feelings bred from experience. How many of us, including church leaders, has the Lord been speaking to for quite some time about the next step into HIs plan, to show the world as Jesus really is, but we are afraid of running people off, being to harsh, not having money to pay the bills. If the hesitancy is wanting to make sure we are defininately hearing the voice of God, by all means wait but if it’s for any other reason…….

    • you are absolutely right in every sense of the word, my friend. the proper question is: “what should we do with our frustration?”

      i am reading a great book right now (“the forgotten ways” by alan hirsch) that i’ll give you when i get home. this is one of those “oh! now i see!” books that really help me as i try to navigate through the frustration. hirsch describes people like you (and, i think, me) as “holy rebels.” hirsch writes:

      “Paradoxically, when holy rebellion presents a perceived (and real) challenge to established forms of church, it is also the key to its renewal…The challnge for the established church and its leaders is to discern the will of God for our time addressed to it in the mouths of its holy rebels. This is critical because I am now convinced that one of the major blockages to unleashing Apostolic Genius is our adherence to an obsolete understanding of the church. We simply have to find a way to push past the pat historical answers that so easily suggest themselves to a people whose imagination of what it means to be God’s people has been taken hostage to a less than Biblical imagination of church.”

  6. I’m currently in the process of envisioning a different way of approaching church buildings and church services.

    I have been blessed somehow to have rarely confused church buildings and church services with Christianity — with pursuing Christ Jesus, studying to understand His truths, and attempting to love and serve and teach messy people. I love the idea of “the local church,” but have been frustrated by both local churches I’ve attended the last 30+ years. Often lately, I feel like the politcal liberals who want to love and serve “mankind;” it’s just these individuals around me I can’t really stand. I love that Christ is building “the Church” but it’s just that my local church is boring. How can something Christ (the most exciting being in the Universe) is building be boring?

    I’m envisioning church buildings more akin to campuses where people are learning about Christ and the Gospel, and Christian living all throughout the week, like a community college. There would be teaching for those needing Christianity 101 and Alpha courses… but also advanced teaching for old, jaded, weary-of-doing-good believers and omega courses for those who have spent their spare time studying the past few decades.

    As for Church services, Wednesday nights would be practicums, how to do the Word, while Sunday mornings would be riveted on the Glory of Christ and the Attributes of God. Sunday morning would be nothing but WORSHIP! The singing and preaching and Sunday school teaching would all focus on the Glory of Christ and the Beautiful Attributes of our only Worthy God.

    The church buildings and church services would be host to multiple teachers—the best could we find on each topic of interest. There would be weekends with Paul David Tripp or David Powlison, or lesser lights who could deepen our love for Christ on a topic peculiarly of interest to them.

    Wow, I’d sure like to attend (or lead) church buildings and church services like these.

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