Friday, October 20, 2017

Future Church, Part I

The church I attend has moved into the here and now. I’ve been a member over thirty years so I’ve seen a lot of changes, but the progression in recent years has left some people with questions and concerns. Others have just left. They don’t like the loud music or the new methods of reaching the community. We are a Southern Baptist church in a southern town, and when I joined we were not what you’d call diverse. We are now. We are multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-generational, and multi-cultural. I’ve not heard one complaint about this shift to becoming the kind of church we should have been all along—one that stands in stark contrast to the world’s divisiveness. But there have been grumblings over ministry modifications and worship styles. As for me, I embrace the change. Change brings hope. Hope for the future of the church. Perhaps in the future, we won’t feel the need to point out our diversity (like I just did) because it just is. We just are.

Changing doesn’t mean we doubt the success of the future church. The gospel doesn’t need any assistance in remaining the hope of all mankind. Nor does God require our cooperation to save the world. But while we’re here practicing church, shouldn’t we gladly take part in the graceful movement of the body of Christ as we meet the future?

The future won’t recognize the church I knew thirty years ago, a time when an unchurched person had at least some familiarity with certain scriptures—the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, John 3:16. But a growing population must be told, “This is a Bible.” In a country with so many churches, and freedom to worship, more and more people, especially children, have never opened a Bible. They’ve never held one. They’ve never seen one. They don’t know anything about the book, or the God who inspired it, or the gospel that is their only hope.

I’m not suggesting we forget our past. I believe in the importance of church history. I don’t believe we know it well enough. Scores of brothers and sisters in Christ gave their lives to give us a future. And yet we fuss over music. Even now Christians around the world die for their faith while I live a life driven more by temporal expectations than the eternal promise of the gospel. If making a few changes propels the message to the next generation, who am I to cling to the past? The gospel belongs to the future, so the future is where I belong.

Next time at Unchained: Ensuring the gospel reaches future generations is something I support, although, like I said, God doesn’t need our feeble methods to accomplish His purpose. It’s for His glory and our edification we follow Him wherever He leads. But there is another movement ready to carry a semblance of the church far past the constraints of the world as we know it. I can’t say I embrace this particular change. In my next post, find out who they are and what they’ve got planned. Spoiler alert: Science fiction has nothing on this.

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