I’ve spent years studying and considering the nature, function, and future of the Church. While some see no future for the church, I have hope: granted, that hope is small. I’ve written five books centering on what the Church needs to do to move forward. While they’ve been widely read by people in the Church, they’ve fallen empty on the ears of the hierarchical structure of the Institutional Church: they have no desire to listen. They actually see nothing wrong with how things are going. This confuses me. They know the church is declining, but they don’t want to change to stop the decline. Why? Why would those, with few exceptions, seeing this decline not want to face the issues? Are they at a point where the decline doesn’t affect them personally? Are they at a point where they simply don’t care? Many in the structured leadership of the Institutional Church proclaim, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church for them to do nothing; and that is, in and of itself, sad.
Let me share with you ten things I think the Church needs to change to face the future, but sadly won’t.
01. THE STATUS QUO: The Church twists the correlation between what they’ve done in the past, with what they think they need to survive in the future. Doing the same things over, and over, while hemorrhaging in decline is just stupid. Sure, they can claim tradition is good, but if that tradition doesn’t speak to the current generation what value is it?
02. REGAIN YOUR ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: The Church has lost their original language of love, grace, acceptance, forgiveness, and replaced it with a language of judgement and exclusion. Now, they can claim when they judge others they do it in love – I’ll bullshit on that.
03. RECONNECT WITH OTHERS: The Church has lost the ability to laugh, embrace, care, dance, and sing with others. They need to reach past their walls, and open their table to others – all others – learning to enjoy those who the Divine places before them.
04. STAND CLEAR OF POLITICS: While proclaiming they’re outside the culture, they’ve adopted the culture of the cultural-right. They’ve become so deeply embodied within the cultural-right, most people looking at the Church have no idea where the church starts, and the republican party ends.05. UNDERSTAND THE DIVERSITY: They’re under the false impression that what they do and believes today is the same things everyone has done and believed over the past 2,000 years. Read about church history, and the wonderful dynamic tension throughout the ages.
06. CARE FOR THE PERSON: They don’t care about the individual, they care about the institution. Everything those in leadership of the Church do centers on keeping the institution alive, regardless of the cost to the individual. This can be seen difference between what they spend their building, and they spend helping others.
07. BRING IN NEW DNA: With few exceptions, they’ve lost their desire to reach past their fortress walls, to those outside their fortress. They’ve become inbred, inward focused, to the exclusion of those who can bring in new DNA into the genetic pool.
08. HEAR OTHER VOICES: They’ve become their own best listener – those in the power structure want to hear the voices of others within the church, never once wanting to hear the voices of those outside the church. They ask those within their walls ‘How are we doing?’ and since they receive positive answers, they have no desire to change. Never once wondering what those walking past them think. Keep in mind, as they pat yourselves on the back thinking all is good, there are many people laughing.
09. ACTIONS ARE LOUD: What they say, isn’t what they do. Their voice has become a distant echo to others; static in the many frequencies facing those outside the Church. Stand several blocks away from any Church building and ask those who passing by, where is such-n-such church, you’ll be surprised by their response.
10. TRULY CHANGE: They proclaim, we’re changed in Christ, but they’re not. They blame this on their humanity, yet I know people who aren’t professed believes who treat others more like Jesus, then they do. When they claim Christ changes them, but they still treat people like crap, their words are empty.
While I would pray those in the structured leadership of the Church would listen, I know they won’t. Many others, besides myself, have written on what the Institutional Church needs to do, but they are so invested in the institution change is impossible. So, my prayers now turns to those seeking to plant new, progressive, open communities of faith in our Cities.