I Can’t Wait for the Future

FBC wears this t-shirt which cracks me up.  The future we imagine might be full of cool new toys or it might involve something darker.  But part of our job as professional ministers involves telling the story of a different future. 

I’m not talking about a “hang-in-there-because-heaven-will-be-great-even-though-our-current-state-is-miserable” theology.  I’m talking about heaven on earth and what that might look like for our spiritual communities. 

Our staff is reading this book by Zaffron and Logan, and it teaches some of the same concepts as the PCUSA’s New BeginningsWhat is the future story of our community?  Are we stuck in a default future?

I’ve noticed that people get angry and/or frantic when I point out to them that their church is dying and probably will close in the next 3-5 years.  Note to self:  Don’t use a hammer when conveying this message. 

People don’t want to hear this news for complex reasons:  it’s critical of them and the way they do/have always done things; it’s overwhelming because they are too tired to make big changes; they don’t want to make big changes; they just want the church of their personal histories to be there – same as ever – when they die.  The congregations that make the leap from what they want the church to be to what God might want the church to be is a brave one.  It might be the ultimate in faithful discipleship.

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8 responses to “I Can’t Wait for the Future

  1. I’m curious, what do you look at in a church that leads you to the assessment of death within 3-5 years? (I really hope I’m not missing the signs at Tiny.)

  2. Hi MA – It varies from church to church, but essentially it’s 1) no interest on the part of the congregation to offer authentic care to each other or to the world outside their doors; 2) no obvious spiritual wholeness or growth; 3) living entirely off of an endowment that will literally be depleted in 3-5 years with noplans for funding ministry beyond that point.

  3. Jan – thanks for the suggestion of the book – am planning to have us (LL staff) read two books this summer about change/practices – both from secular/business and spiritual/religious perspectives – so adding this to my short list.

  4. Jan – thanks for the suggetion – adding it to my short list – will be reading two books with LL staff this summer/next few monts I hope – one more secular, one more spiritual/religious – on change/transition. Your short list of criteria seems sound to me -wondered about state of physical plant/resources to maintain that as well – or is that included in 3)?

  5. Mary Marcotte

    Good indicators… I’m hoping to get real with some of our churches in this neck of the woods. Almost a third of our churches have part time stated supply or are going week to week…. Your markers are spot on…. Others that I find helpful are the willingness to learn or do something new and the level of connectivity with the community.

  6. The t shirt resonates with me, and I would like to buy it. Where can i do that?

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