You’re looking a little tired and a bit stressed out. We know Easter is only a few weeks away, but trust me, you make it through (just as you do every year, but one word of advice, please remember to heat the water in the baptistery, we’ve still got people talking about the times you forgot to do that). Anyway, we had a moment and we just thought it would be a good idea to check in and let you know how things were going here in 2035 (only twenty years from now).
First off, no worries, we’re doing fine! We are healthy, happy, and still chugging along! We are even having a little bit of fun! We chuckle a bit about that time (your time) when EVERYBODY was scared that the Church was “dying” and crying how the ecclesiastical sky was falling. Do you remember all the sleepless nights, the workshops, the books, the blog posts? Yeah, that was a good time, right? (No, not so much). So let me tell you this: stop worrying, we’re not “dead!” So that’s the good news. But I should warn you, things do look a little different now.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be, I mean, we all knew this was coming. We are “smaller” (you should know, though, that we stopped using that term to describe ourselves about ten years ago). There are less people that come to worship now than there were in your time, and I should tell you it took some getting used to, but we worked through it alright. We are okay because while there may be “less” people, we actually feel like we are doing “more” ministry. Crazy, right?! Here’s the thing, it was like a few years ago we we woke up one day and realized that once we stopped counting people and started focusing on doing authentic ministry with the people and the resources we had really cool things could start happening. It took practice, and we had to retrain ourselves, and it has not been without some grief, but we’re getting there now.
Let’s see, what else? Oh, you know those buildings that dot the landscapes of so many of our towns? You know those places where you worry about the roofs, the heat and air, and the color of the sanctuary carpet? Yeah, most of them are not around any more. I’ll wait while you shed a tear. (Silence) Okay, you good? Let me explain what happened; We got tired. We got tired of the property meetings, the insurance requirements, the turf wars, and all the expense. We got tired of telling our communities that we did not have any funds available to help each other because we just spent $40,000 on an air conditioner. We got tired of our people trying to tear the congregation apart over a disagreement in curtain selection (remember those days?). So where do we “church” now? I’m so glad you asked! The simple answer is, EVERYWHERE. We’re meeting in homes, coffee shops, bars, in parks, and even on street corners. Sometimes we even meet in different places every week. Sure, there’s some buildings that are still hanging on, and there are some people who long for the good ol’ days, but we’re making it just fine.
Oh, yeah! I almost forgot! The ministry! You know, that actual “hands and feet of Jesus stuff.” You are not going to believe what we are doing now. Seriously, this is so exciting! You remember all those times we sat in Bible Studies and in small group meetings and we wondered what it would be like if we served our communities the way Jesus did and the way that he taught his disciples? Yeah, we are doing that now! We are feeding people, giving them clothes, and even jobs! Because we don’t have to worry about the expenses of a building where we worship we are using our money to build transitional housing communities and rehab centers to help get folks off the street. We’re spending all kinds of time in nursing homes and other care facilities, providing companionship to all those who used to feel like the Church had forgotten them. No longer is the primary question, “How do we get people to come to church,” instead the question that we are asking every day is, “How do we bring the church to the people?” We have the time and the resources now to do all the things that we dreamed of back in 2015! Pretty cool, right?
Look, hey, I gotta run, there’s a group that is looking to build a new library and they want the church’s help (can you believe people are actually reading books again!). Hang in there, it’s all good.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Vadim Sadovski
Rev. Aaron Todd serves as the Minister for Education at First Christian Church-Midwest City, OK . Among other things, he focuses on youth, children, young adult, and family ministry. He is married to Debra, who is also a Disciples pastor, and together they have a 3 year old son named Zach and a precious baby boy named Josh. In addition to their human children, they have a 5 year old dog named Amos (named after the prophet). Check out his blog, Peace.Love.Coffee