The 22nd Century Church?

Mattel_HoverboardOne of my brilliant colleagues wondered out loud the other day what the 22nd Century Church might look like.  That’s right:  the Church 100 years from now.

I expend a lot of energy pondering the 21st Century Church and what we could be.  But Brilliant Colleague has the right idea. What if we tried to imagine what will become of the Church for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

I participated in a discussion yesterday about how theological institutions might make shifts to better address the spiritual needs of future generations.  And here’s what ideas popped into my head:

  • The spiritual will effectively partner with the sacred, making the lines between them blurrier. Ministry will be integral in businesses, schools and other institutions.  But it will probably not be called “ministry.”
  • Spiritual competency will be an expected part of human development.  (Note:  I have no idea what this might look like. And by “competency” I don’t mean that spiritual depth is something we achieve – but then I’m a fan of Reformed Christian theology.)
  • Christians will have dramatically altered our expectations about what’s necessary to be a church.  We will have long cast aside those things – from real estate to programming – that do not bring the reign of God (although we liked them very much for generations.)
  • Theological words and their definitions will have changed.  Just as “charity” (19th Century) became “love” decades later in Scripture, imagine changes in church vernacular: “worship service” becoming “community gathering” or “equipping the saints” becoming “training and deploying the faith community.”  Not as catchy, but someone will create better terms.
  • Interfaith relationships will be strong and united against fundamentalism of every kind.

Can we begin to imagine what the Church will be like in 100 years?  I actually don’t know that we can.

Jesus will always have a Church and we do not get to control what the Church will look like.  Our job – today and generations from now – is to commit to discernment, study, and prayer.  We have only a shadow of an idea of what we could be and do, by grace.

Image source.  When do we get our hoverboards?  We were promised hoverboards.

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2 responses to “The 22nd Century Church?

  1. Let’s do the math, go back 100 years, and think about what those people might have imagined for today: You will look at a piece of glass that will kind of look like a picture frame, except in the picture frame you will actually see your mission team in Honduras. You will be able to hear and follow them in the village. Crazy, right? I know, it’s just a picture frame.

    I do love your ideas. I pray for the interfaith relationships, and I fully expect the dramatic shifts in expectations. It is interesting to see the different perspectives on the building. Some who say we don’t need one. Some who see it as a blessing. Some who see it -or how much of it we have- as a burden.

    Form follows function, I know, but I would like to see our seminaries training people for the 2115 Church, instead of the 1915 Church. That’s not a gripe. They might be doing this; I haven’t been very connected to that world recently. So if they are not, then I think it needs to change. If they are, then I say way to go!

  2. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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