What would your “Letter to a Future Church” say? (a new book and opportunity)

The following is part of the Patheos Book club for Letters to a Future Church.

There’s a new book that I’m excited to tell you about called “Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals.” This book is edited by Chris Lewis but has contributions from many of my favorite Christian voices: Walter Brueggeman, David Fitch, Ron Sider, Shane Claiborne, Rachel held Evans, Kathy Escobar, Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove, Peter Rollins, and many more.

The various letters are organized into categories based on the message or theme. Some wrote about mission, while others truth, yet others art, and finally some folks wrote about hope. Perhaps one of my favorite letters, which will be of little surprise to many of you, was written by Shane Claiborne. I think just giving you the title will create intrigue: “a dozen (or so) flags and seven piles of poop.”

I wholeheartedly affirm and recommend this book!

I have an extra copy I would like to give away. I figured out how I’m going to go about doing this.

I want to invite you to write a letter to a future church. What would your major themes be? What would you appeal to about the church that is good and should therefore stay as it is? Where would your dreams take you to exhort the future church toward helping her become something even more beautiful?

With those questions in mind I invite you to leave your letter to a future church as a comments here on my blog. I will read through them and will try to pick one but I think uniquely captures division of the kingdom. A couple of parameters:

First, try to keep your letter between 150 —  550 words.

Second, invite others to write a letter of their own by posting this blog link on Facebook, with a quote from your own letter.

Third, enter your letter to win a free gift package (beyond the book giveaway on my blog) which includes having your letters published online by Patheos.com’s main site! Go here to enter.

Even if you don’t end up with a free copy of the book or a letter on Patheos, I have a feeling, that reading the letters generated on this blog will be more than worth it!

Finally, I plan to write my own letter and to post it within the next week or so. At that time, I will invite your feedback on what I come up with.

So… How would you compose a “letter to a future church?”

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  • How would I? Probably open Word and type it out.

    What would I say? That would take some more thought. Something to the effect of don’t be afraid to question and dig deep. Find the answers for yourself. Gather together in groups to discuss your ideas. Something along those lines. I should get to work on this.

  • Nathan

    Dear future church, we did the best with what we had and what we knew.  While you probably look back at us and think we were entirely backwards and blind to what the Scripture says, we like the those before us have done the best we could to serve our Saviour.  Remember the words of Paul, I “beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each others faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”  Looking forward to meeting you all day when our Lord returns 🙂

    On a slightly different note, I enjoyed Tony Jones’ review of this book.  One of his criticisms (?) was that this book wasn’t written to the future church, it was written to the church today.  Just a thought….

  • Pmpope68

    I could sum up what I would say in two words, “be open”.  So much of the conflict that I have seen seems to stem from a lack of openness to people and ideas that are different from the so-called norm or from what has been the accepted tradition or way of doing things.  I believe one can be open and still have core beliefs.  

  • The first thing I would write in a letter to the church of
    the future is an apology, an apology for watering down the Gospel and an
    apology for trying to replace the Bride of Christ with cultural religion of
    ritual, compromise and traditions.  I
    would then call them back to the simple faith of following because that is what
    the church really is. It is at its core about following Jesus and all of the various
    teachings of Christ and His apostles is all about. I would encourage them to
    study the church throughout the ages but to not idolize any movement or era.
    Finally I would exhort them to keep their focus on the cross of Christ.


    It is hard for many of us to think of the church of the
    future without thinking about the church in the West but as Europe has shown us
    the future of civil religion is grim. The church in the future is going to be a
    lot less American and in America it is going to be a lot less popular. We can
    only hope that we prepare for a post-Christendom faith now because the end of
    that era is upon us already.

  • I’d encourage the future church to pay attention to its past. Studying church history is a powerful corrective to the sadly human inclination of assuming we are the smartest, most faithful, most missional Christians who’ve ever lived. Burdened as many of us are by the post-Enlightenment conviction that “new is always better,” we would do well to study the examples of the past faithful — and unfaithful — to discern how we can best incarnate the timeless truths of the Bible in our present context.

    When we pay attention to the past — when we consider the lives of the saints and sinners who have come before us — we may arrive at a better understanding of our own limitations as Christians. It’s an exercise in humility — and one that many of today’s churches are too preoccupied to undertake. The future church would do well to pay attention to its past as a way of discerning its future.