Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preservation vs. Revitalization

The Church in America has been on the side of preservation for quite sometime. We are guarded and aware that we are declining and loosing members and resources at a rapid pace. We have a generation that is coming of age that is anti religion and see the church as useless and waste of time for most. What are we going to do about this? We can blame our leaders, our ancestors and those who have gone before us. Or we can take ownership of it. We can proclaim and name the issues and then seek resolving this issue that plagues our churches and denominations.

In recent times there has been a push of campaigns that urge the church to refocus or may I say "Rethink" the purpose and practices of church. The United Methodist Church has made this central to it's publicity and communication. But have we really made a refocusing or may I say a revitalization of our churches, our ministries and our focus.

Too often we are consumed with preserving and entertaining our congregations. We are bottled necked and strangled by membership maintenance, facility demands and ministries "sacred cows". What if we were free to dream, be authentic and seek the guidance and thoughts of this generation? What if we really and truly began to not just rethink but re-church or undo some of the wasted resources, time and black holes of our churches.

Don't get me wrong. I am a true believer in discipleship and making disciples of Jesus Christ. I take serious our call by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 where he commissions us to daily "make disciples" in His name. To be about the building of His kingdom on earth today. This requires a commitment of resources, time and often a lot of prayer and work. But if we continue to try "to make" disciples in the same way we have been were going to fail miserably. Now more than ever before I see and experience such shallowness of spirituality and theology in what our faithful believe. Our actions and attitudes are aligned with Christ. They contradict the very word we say and are calling our people to.

So who do we blame? Who is responsible for this? Everyone of us who are in the role of leadership. Who has been called to lead should take a close look at themselves. All I see is that I blame myself. I take responsibility of falling short and creating a safe place where the faithful can be stagnate and shallow. Where they are not challenged to change but always reminded that they are loved. Yes we are loved and God will continue to do so. But there is much more to it than just that we need to be "loving" towards others. He isn't going to change or waver in that. However because of His great love for us we should and are compelled to do something in response.

We need to be in the business of our Father's business. God's business is not about protecting or preserving the Church but about expanding it. He is about opening the front doors and inviting anyone who wants to come in to do just that. We have been about keeping our churches safe and respectable. Were going to have to step our in faith and be uncomfortable. Were going to have to invite the un-respectable, unlovable and broken spirits of this world. Were gonna have to abandon the safe corners of our communities and coffee shops and walk across the room and talk, share and love those who don't look, act or think like we do.

If were going to survive and be the church that God is calling us to be we are going to have to revitalize our beliefs, opinions and dreams of the church. Were going to have to change. And that change ends with us talking about it and actually doing it!

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