Thursday, October 17, 2013

The future of the church

I'm not a doomsayer about the church.  I firmly believe that Jesus is going to get his church to do and be what he wants it to do and be.  No question in my mind.

The question comes when you start talking not about the church of Jesus Christ -- the Body of Christ across the world -- but about a specific congregation.  What we affectionately refer to as "our" church or "my" church.

That's telling, isn't it?  When we start to refer to it as "our" church, not the church of Jesus, then the future comes into question!

So take a specific congregation.  Take one that you love or at least care about.  What will be the future of this church?

It depends.

The thing is, churches thrive when they are following Jesus.  And -- this is key -- Jesus doesn't hang around much inside churches.

Don't get me wrong, he visits.  He'll show up on Sunday morning to be praised, to bring healing, to have a conversation with those praying, to help connect people to one another.  But if those same people aren't concerned about him from noon on Sunday to 8 am the following Sunday, he'll eventually stop showing up at that church.  Why?  Because those people don't really want him there.  If they really wanted Jesus, they'd want him Monday through Saturday as well, and not just in a "Jesus, I can't find my car keys again" kind of way.

So if people in your church are interested in following Jesus in a whole-life kind of way, Jesus is a lot more likely to be present on Sunday morning -- because people know him and want him in their church.  What's more, they've been having an ongoing conversation with him all week about what he's up to out in the world.

They're his friends.  (See John 15.)

That church will probably grow and thrive, not because lots of people are coming to the church but because the people in the church are following Jesus out into the world, wanting to be a part of what Jesus is doing out there.

Pretty simple, when you really think about it.

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