The future may “not be ours to see” for good reason
If ten, thirty or even fifty years ago, you were asked to imagine the future church, what do you think you would have seen?
A bell-and-steeple, brick-and-mortar building on every street corner? ... An all-you-can-preach, open mic night on Fridays and Saturdays? ... Or, maybe the simple addition of a keyboard or two—or better yet, an electric-guitar with a keyboard built right into it?
As we know, that particular future has already come and gone. We’ve lived it. And, while we can still play electric-guitar on a keyboard, I have yet to see any promising development of keyboards on electric-guitars...
Nor have I heard many promising predictions for today’s future church.
When trying to imagine it, I admit, I have a bit of a hard time. Change is all around us—I know that—but I suppose I have allowed my imagination to grow a little stagnant alongside a que-sera-sera presumption that church is what it is, simply because it is... and more ignorantly still: that it will also become whatever it will be.
The future may “not be ours to see” for good reason, but aligning ourselves with God’s will ought to be top of mind.
Instead of pointing the same question back at you, I’ve got a better idea...
Imagine we took a visit to an old school—last in session some forty to fifty years ago. Without its students, teachers, desks and books, it has been reduced to a collection of classrooms, hallways, cobwebs and deceased dust-bunnies...
Still, without even stepping inside, I bet we can visualize how it might have been: where the kids might have hung their coats or took their seats; where the teachers might have stood, holding their chalk, recording line after line of now-forgotten facts...
Now, let us visualize the graduating class skipping away at the end of the school year. Some of them with plans for post-secondary—others, eager to trade in their textbooks for good/medium/or-anything paying jobs. Many of them, some sooner than later, starting families of their own—one day sending their little ones off to similar, (maybe-even-nicer) sort of schools.
These imaginings provide a time-lapsed visual of a familiar life cycle observed in most Christian households. Mysterious as they are, we are told they embody, spiritually and figuratively, Christ and His church.
As for the rest of the world, these same cycles were awarded the most complete phrase one could think of: Going full circle. What could be more complete, after all, than something that begins in one place, and through persistence and determination, makes its way back to where it started?
This isn’t so much a trick question as it is an opportunity to bring Jesus into the conversation.
Though His promise lives in the form of a cross, Jesus, we know, is the only complete and perfect creation God ever traced into being. To be a Christian is to lock arms with Christ (in faith) and become part of His never-ending circle. Click To Tweet
That doesn’t mean, mind you, that life will immediately surrender itself to the wild forces of hakuna-matata. Nor does it mean that followers of Christ are required to take Christianity 101 again, again, and again...
Church, wherever and however, belongs to Christ. It also belongs to those with Christ in them. If and when we ask you to visualize the future of church—and we will—it is not (necessarily) because we are called to implement its change.
But, as members of His body, we are responsible for how well the church is changing us.
When we promote holy living and resist the ways of the world—we are being Christ’s church. When we give, readily and diligently, putting others before ourselves—we are being Christ's church. When we cling to what is good, rejoice in the fulfillment of His will, and simply (and not-so-simply) love one another—we are being, in full-circle-fashion, Christ’s church.
Certainly, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. His church—is anything but.
...Alright. We warned you this question was coming.
Where do you see the church in ten, thirty or fifty years…?
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