Not a lot of blog posting going on here, that’s partly by design, and partly because I don’t have much to write on. (The election in the US also adds significant noise to the blogosphere, a topic I don’t really want to wade into since it’s outside of my expertise.) I have a ton of ideas, just no central focus to tie it together. Rather than put out odds and sodds I’m working on 2017s thematic approach to blog posting. Last year most posts revolved around church leadership and change management. I’ll stick with it this year but I sense a new approach as well, a vain attempt to get this blog a bit more mainstream.
That includes more ‘mainstream’ faith topics and I have some ideas. By in large Christians in the West are incapable of re-telling the Gospel story in a language that others can understand. We’ve been caught up in the institution so long that the way we ‘share’ or live out faith only makes sense for the people already in the pew. Everyone else? The Christian faith makes little sense, and if anything, appears antagonistic to basic values like human rights.
Most writing on living out a Christian faith today revolves around hanging on to comforts of Christendom, presenting them in an attractive way as to convince others to come into your familiar old church world. There’s got to be a new way, and I want to explore that.
Christians mostly hang out with Christians, which is surprisingly a non-issue in the vast majority of churches. Leaders may pay continuous lip-service for congregations ‘get out there’, but what’s practiced inside is the opposite. Churches generally exist for themselves and work very hard to keep those already in. So long as the service on Sunday looks full, even if it’s the same people for a decade, everyone’s happy.
But happiness comes at the cost of ignoring two significant problems for Christianity in North America: 1) consumer Christianity means churches spend most of their energy to manage and offer services to their already churched people; 2) cracks are starting to show in larger churches, as the recycling of transfer Christians proliferates, new initiatives are becoming less attractive, and new believers are rarely a thing. To put it another way, innovation was never a strong suit in churches, and now it’s becoming even less attractive for the simple reason we’re in an age of exodus where most churches barely manage to keep their numbers steady. The response in this climate is simple–consolidate back to empire. Strengthen what’s being lost in a last ditched attempt to be the last to survive–centralize backBACK to institutional church. I’m seeing large churches who are supposed to be the anomaly to church decline re-orient to this because they’ve finally noticed something is awry.
Big trouble is coming. And the solution is to find core leaders who have the bravery to offer vision that’s both risky and effective.