Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Future of the Church

People have gathered together to proclaim Christ since shortly after his death and resurrection. At some point they stopped being called Christ-followers and became known as Christians. Also, at some point, they stopped being little groups and these gatherings became known as churches. Over the centuries, the church has changed and evolved. Beliefs became doctrines and structures evolved.

Now we have finished the first decade of the twenty-first century. What does the future of the church look like?

The truth is: no one knows.

Times will change. On his blog, David Murrow speculated that midsized churches will disappear. I am not sure that I agree with that prognostication. It seems a bit deterministic. Murrow also sees and explosion in satellite campuses and micro-churches. Maybe. He also sees a shift away from denominations, which seems likely as distances collapse in the virtual world. I can connect with a pastors in Canada and the U.K. almost as easily as fellow clergy only a few miles away, and on occasion, I have more in common with someone four thousand miles away than I do with someone who is four miles away.

Jürgen Moltmann’s theology of hope focuses on the resurrection as a spring of optimism. Only with faith and hope can we find “not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering” (1967, p. 21). As I look to the future, I recognize that the church will change, but share Moltmann’s theology of hope. Churches and Christianity will not disappear, so what will it look like?

Will churches be greener?
Will they be more like social clubs? Or, will they be more socially conscious?
Will churches be better educators of those who show up?
Will we be better organized, have better programs, and just be ‘better’?
Will church be worse?
Will various churches have more in common or more differences?
There are many more questions.
The answer to these is ‘yes’.


We do not know the future, but this is an interesting topic to think about.

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