What’s at Stake?

Over the next several weeks, as a follow to our recent Roundtable Podcast (Check it out if you haven’t already: What’s at Stake?), we will be reflecting on the question, “What’s at Stake?”

We are surveying our experiences over the last several years in an attempt to unpack the significance of this moment in our lives and in the life of the church.

The crises of this moment have accelerated and exacerbated the issues that have been hinted at for the last sixty years in the life of the church. The decline our institutions are encountering is real.  The continuation of this pandemic, the social and political unrest that have for years lay just below the surface of our national identity, our stumbling economy, and a cadre of clergy ill-prepared to deal with any of these things, has brought us to a reckoning.

What’s at stake?

The souls of our ecclesiastical bodies are at stake. Who we claim to be, considering who we confess God to be, is at stake!  The efficacy of our faith in the Gospel is at stake.

These critical moments in our lives and in the lives of our churches, are revealing deep fissures in our faith foundations as well as the faultiness of our much of our spiritual formation.

Our embrace of doing “what works” over doing the right thing has worn thin.  Myths of our exceptionalism are threadbare and frayed.  Our allegiance with corrupt systems and our passive complicity with injustice are exposed – so that while these systems tremble, we quake.

What’s at stake?

The soul of our churches is at stake.  Our identities as clergy are at stake. Many of us have strayed so far from our compassionate and prophetic witness that we are scarcely recognizable.  We offer little comfort to those who remain spiritually curious, hungry, and thirsty.  They have long become suspicious of the contradiction between our words and our works.  We have been weighed and found lacking.

And yet, there is cause for hope.

As we are in throes of this reckoning, we have an opportunity.  Our faith, though tested, culminates in hope.  This hope incites our imagination – that is our ability to imagine a different way of being in the world, a different way of gathering, a different way of caring for one another, a different way of manifesting the beloved community which is the true Church of Jesus Christ.

What’s at stake?

Our illusions are at stake – the illusions of a Christian nation and our special favor.  Our institutional, denominational viability is at stake.  Our souls have been replaced by our politics.  How we connect with one another in time and space is at stake.  Everything is on the table.

With all that is at stake, what should remain intact is our “why.”

Our faith in Christ must be intractable. Our living hope in the resurrection must be unwavering.  Our confidence in GOD’s character amid unheralded uncertainty is what steels us.  Our love for GOD and GOD’s creation is relentless…

The Church will go on…

Different? Yes…

Better? Indeed…

Will it hurt?  Absolutely.

Is it worth it…?

What’s at stake?

In some senses, what is at stake is both nothing and everything

If we lose an illusion as we receive the Truth, then nothing is lost, and everything is gained.

If we sacrifice comfort as we receive eternal security – nothing is lost, and everything is gained.

If the chaff is driven away and we are left only with the kernel, then we have what is required to plant again.

God’s Church will outlast our institutions.

The soul of the Church is durable but must be tended to.

May we grow and embrace this stirring and unsettling time as a season of plowing and plucking up – so that what remains may flourish.

What’s at stake?  A whole lot… everything… but nothing that really matters.

Mark Ramsey has been saying for years now, “that the culture has picked clean the carcass of our institutions, but they left us Jesus.”

In my estimation – despite all that may be lost – Jesus is still enough!

  • Carol Lynn Patterson
    Posted at 11:56h, 27 January Reply

    This brutally honest look at the state of Church points to a better, brighter future. Thank you for confronting the brutal facts so we can move from good to greater in Christ.

  • Brad Munroe
    Posted at 13:46h, 27 January Reply

    Thanks, Adam! Truly, nothing and everything is at stake!

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