Photo by Admiral General
For about 20 years, Laura and I were in ministry as a pastor and church planter. I was pretty good at taking over struggling churches and revitalizing/replanting them and making them viable. One of the main things I would do is blend into the community and then introduce them to some fresh approaches.
At the last church, we renamed the church because it was a legacy Church. I installed an overhead projector, developed a praise and worship band, began teaching in my style. We also cleaned up and repaired the physical building until everything felt like it had a new life.
It was easy to be excited about projects like this. We felt like we were doing something totally new. People would remark from the outside that what we were doing appeared to have life and be vibrant. All three churches were successful and we were at least somewhat loved and accepted and they didn’t want us to leave when it came time.
But, one of the things we noticed was how all three of those churches seemed to slowly morph back into some invisible model of what people thought the church should be. The churches we were associated with never evolved forward– they always morphed backwards.
When we wrote our book, Out Into the Desert, we were not imagining any past model of the church. Not a first century model, not an orthodox model, not a 1850s model or a 1950s model. We were trying to imagine the church moving forward into the century where we live.
Without intention, the church will slowly morph back into our memories or imaginations of the past. In reality, that means that how we do religion in church is really not all that different from the time of Constantine, some 1500 years ago.
I believe the model of spirituality for the future is really very simple. It doesn’t involve buildings, it doesn’t involve liturgies, and it doesn’t involve clergy. It’s similar to my current spiritual life and it goes something like this:
– Go inside and be at peace
– Live and love from our authenticity
– Listen to each other
– Keep asking questions, keep evolving
– Be where your are (presence)
– Be who you are (authenticity)
– Be at peace
If we don’t evolve forward, we will morph backward.