This is the third in a series of posts responding to the five questions posed by a special GA committee exploring the nature of the church in the 21st Century (see previous responses here and here). This time, I’ll tackle Question 3:
>What do you think are the highest priorities and challenges for the church in the 21st century?
Priority 1– Finding a way forward that allows for respectful diversity
Relationships within the church (the denomination) have taken a beating, given the push to choose one side or the other on several issues. If Amendment 10-A passes, as appears likely, many will be tempted to break fellowship with the denomination. Others are looking to remain, but create some sort structure to allow for distinct subsets within the whole. While these groups express feelings of being wounded and excluded, those who have been supportive (or at least open) to these changes are not without their own scars and bruises. All of these wounds must be honored and acknowledged by all parties before trust can be rebuilt. Being a church together will definitely require thoughtful reframing of conversations and may include creative restructuring of relationships within the denomination.
Priority 2 – Embrace Reality, Awaken imaginations and Be Intentional
At every level we must take a look at what is true about ourselves, our contexts and the challenges we face. We must determine whether or not we are willing to change. If we opt to stay the course, it needs to be an intentional choice with eyes wide open. If we are willing to commit to new things, then let’s really open it up. Let’s take some time to be quiet and ask the Spirit to lead us into new ways of sharing leadership, carrying the gospel to the community and serving our neighbors. Let’s trust God to raise up emerging leaders from all sorts of demographics and then support them as they pursue their calling and vision. Let’s find ways to serve one another as well – reconnecting to become more than the sum of our parts.
Priority 3 – become more missional, which will almost certainly lead to greater diversity.
This goes back to my previous post. Most of our churches are sitting in areas that are far more diverse than their congregations. Going into the community, building relationships, extending hospitality, and making disciples – among all of those God places in our path.