Four “Church Questions” That Have Reached Their Sell-By Date…
Over the last several weeks, in addition to taking a closer look at John 21, we have examined three questions that may have lost traction in our rapidly changing culture:
Where do you go to church? The “attractional model” of bringing people into church risks depriving congregations of learning to play “away games” in our cultural context.
Will this…bright, shiny new thing…get us new members? This runs the risk of treating ministry as a transaction. Input effort and plans and get people in return.
What is God doing next? risks ignoring that God is doing something now.
Today, we examine our fourth and final question…
Week 5: How Are You Managing?
The question is either asked something like that or just with a look and a sigh. Ministers pass this question back and forth with ease. Managing…what? There is never a need to specify the “what.” We are managing decline, managing wistfulness among those who think we can make it 1962 again, managing stress, managing settling for less, managing church in the 21st century.
The question is sensitive. It’s supportive and caring. Even so, it is the wrong question. Even with all the church faces in our culture. I don’t believe that we are created by God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Spirit…to manage.
We are called to love God with all our vital powers.
We are called to love neighbors in the most expansive sense of that word.
We are called to be ambassadors of Christ – to represent God’s hope to the world.
We are called to proclaim Christ crucified and risen.
We are called to not be afraid.
We are called to pray without ceasing.
We are called to show forth the love and justice of Jesus Christ.
None of those come within a hundred miles of managing.
What is happening today in the church is coming from every angle, impacting every generation, acting on us on so many levels—it can only be from God. Only God can act so completely. If, truly, it is God who is dis-establishing the church in western culture–if that is from God–then we get to receive it as a gift. And as a gift from God, we respond in gratitude. We get to respond, not with management, but with joy.
This is the high challenge of our calling. It requires all of our heart and soul and mind when our situations cry out for ways to cope, ways to manage. But receiving this pervasive, dis-locating experience as a gift from God offers a way forward that drives us anew to rely on the promises of God.
Joy beats management.
Every single day.