The concept of positive prayer ... If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion — not without religion but without this my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing — then it can be true ... the World Church called me once and asked, "Can we use the lyrics to 'Imagine' and just change it to 'Imagine one religion'?" That showed me they didn't understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.
This may sound like a strange admission coming from someone whose vocation is teaching ministerial students to preach, but I'm not as concerned about the future of religion in America as I am about the future of God in America. God is not the culprit in our violent, greedy world. God is not irrelevant in our superficial, individualistic, acquisitive culture. God is not the cure for the woes of our world. Not without the response of human beings who allow God to work through us, healing our craving for power, and encouraging us to support one another in communities of care that are attentive to the pain of those on the outskirts.
Protestant churches in America need to revisit the concept that the example that we have in Christ was never about religious organization or hierarchy. Christ spent his earthly time fully engaged with those around him, without prejudice and with an unfathomable, unconditional love. The church cannot hide from Christ's example in the postmodern world of the internet, social media, and instant communication.As churches can help their congregations focus on the example of Christ, as did the family members who lost loved ones in the Charleston murders, religion in America will continue to make a difference.
I imagine a future in which people realize their wisdom is limited and that they need to be in dialogue with one another to discern God's will in the world. That future sounds a lot like the kingdom of God to me. That community sounds like what the church could be.