I’ve been thinking!
I believe that we are living in times of amazing transition that are exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and that challenge us to be our very best selves.
In a meeting with a small group of pastors and theological academics, I said: "I'm convinced that in the next 10-30 years, the local congregation as we know it will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist. Most of our efforts at revitalizing the church are about renewing systems and structures that serve a world that no longer exists. I'm not saying the body of Christ is going away. But where and how it mobilizes to serve, I believe, will be very different."
In a different conversation with a denominational executive, I asked, "If you could get your congregations to do just one thing - and that one thing would foster significant movement toward the transformation of the people of God and the communities they serve, what would that one thing be?” Her answer: I'd have 80% of the congregations I serve sell their building and figure out how to use the money to structure different kinds of ministries to the community in which they exist. The building both defines and profoundly limits change, because we think our building is where God is on mission and we are spending so much on keeping the building in repair.”
I've thought a lot about these two conversations. How will the body of Christ look in 10 to 30 years? I don't know. If I had to make some predictions based on my current perspective, I would say house churches, churches in the workplace functioning subversively, and the return of vibrant, small neighborhood churches. I think these neighborhood churches will be evaluated by two criteria. Do they regularly produced transformed people who can love God, neighbor, stranger, enemy and self? And do they serve the felt needs of the community in which they exist? In other words, do they add measurable value to the quality of the community, to the presence of the Shalom of God.
What interesting times we live in. God grant us wisdom for the living of these days.