The Future of the Church? (3 of 4)

This is Part 3 of a four part series on the future of the church. If you haven’t yet, start with reading Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 3: Community

When I was a kid my best friend lived around the block from me and I would wander to his house almost every day and see if he was available to play. Of course on the days that he beat me to it and showed up on my doorstep I was saved the two hundred yard walk. The streets of my neighborhood growing up were filled with children. We often played baseball, basketball, street hockey and football in the streets. We rode our bikes for miles to gather in larger groups and organize bigger games in parks. None of it was “official” or sanctioned by any professional association. We had no coaches or referees. 

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The Future of the Church? (2 of 4)

This is Part 2 of a four part series on the future of the church. If you haven’t yet, start with reading Part 1.

Part 2: Authenticity

When I was younger I sat with a friend who was struggling in life. I had just committed to Christ in a very passionate way a couple of years before and eagerly shared Jesus with anyone who would listen to me. This friend and I sat in my parent’s driveway talking at 2am about all that he was going through. I took the opportunity to let him know, “This is why you need Jesus in your life.” His response was not what I expected, “Chris I am not as good as you, I can’t do that.”

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The Future of the Church? (1 of 4)

I started working in Churches at the age of in 18 in the year 2000. My time in vocational ministry has seen a ton of changes. The Church growth movement and endless optimism of 1990s Christianity is no more. Most Churches have now suffered from decades of decline with little to no control over the cultural forces around them that seem to be causing the decline. I have thought a lot about these changes and what the future of the Church might look like. For the next four weeks I am going to focus on a different aspect of my thoughts.

Part 1: Mission Driven

Before we get into what I mean by “mission driven” please indulge me in a little diversion which will help illustrate the point. When I show you the picture below what comes to mind? Take some time to think through the thoughts you have before reading on.

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In the Garden

Recently I had the blessing to visit some of the Biblical sites in Israel. Since I returned the number one question people have asked me is, “What was your favorite place you visited?” My response has been quick and easy, “The Garden of Gethsemane!” Magdala, a recent site of archeological discovery, was a close second. The Garden was my favorite spot because of how sure we are this was the spot recorded in the Gospels where Jesus would regularly retreat and pray. To stand in the same place that his sandals touched and to touch the spot they believe he prayed the night he was betrayed was moving beyond words. Sitting there in the garden I was struck with something more than the weight of those moments in history.

Within the garden there is a tree that is over two thousand years old. They have it fenced off to keep people from touching it but I couldn’t help myself. I put my finger through the fence and stood meditating on Jesus’ suffering for me as he prayed there that night. A chapel is built over the spot where tradition holds Jesus actually prayed very near that tree. In the middle of the chapel is an exposed piece of quartz bedrock. If you get close, you’ll see people gathered around it bowed down and placing hands on it. This is the rock recognized as the spot of Jesus’ prayer. Continue reading “In the Garden”

Three Years of Loss

For three years during my undergraduate studies I experienced significant losses. First was the death of my best friends 18 month old daughter. She was tragically hit by a car and her little life was taken from us far too quickly. My friend had been serving our military over seas for half of her life. The next year was the loss of my then girlfriend’s, now wife’s, younger brother to suicide. I can still remember the shock when I received her phone call. The following year I lost my paternal grandmother. I had parts in all three of their memorial services but it would be years I recognized the unhealthy way I was dealing with those losses.

As a good soldier in God’s army I put on a good face. I made sure that God’s hope still shined through me despite what I was feeling inside. I didn’t like the anger that welled up in me when I thought about all these losses. I pushed that anger down and refused to acknowledge it. Years later I began to realize that this anger was wreaking havoc in my life with God. I felt dried up and disconnected from His grace. God was not at fault. I firmly believe that even in that state God was still with me. I felt that way because I was withdrawing from his presence. I was mad at all the pain I had felt. Continue reading “Three Years of Loss”

Incredible Mentors

Recently the sequel to Pixar’s hit movie The Incredibles came out. It has been a while since I have seen the original so I fired up the old DVD player (not really, we burned this onto our iTunes account long ago so I actually mirrored my iMac’s screen to the Apple TV and played the movie that way) and watched it with the kids the other night. I noticed something in the movie that I had never seen before, though we have seen it so many times we were all reciting scenes from memory.

If you have never seen the movie, it is about a world with super powered heroes. Unlike most other super hero stories, the beginning of the movie sets up a tragedy where heroes are considered a liability to society and banned from practicing their powers in public. The main characters go into hiding and the movie skips ahead to the world after all the heroes have blended into normal society for quite some time. Continue reading “Incredible Mentors”