Why I Have Hope
It feels like I’ve been seeing more and more articles about the decline of the Christian church lately. The Atlantic just published an article. Lutheran public theologian Pastor Nadia-Boz Weber has recently written about it.
As someone said in our last Steering Team meeting, talk of the decline of the church has been a topic at Christ United since the church restarted 25 years ago. We’ve been talking about it for a long time.
And yet, despite all of this bad news, I still have hope for Christ United. Here’s why.
In Nadia’s article, she is frequently asked what she thinks the church in the future will look like.
Her answer: “DECLUTTERED”.
I see that here at Christ United. We are a decluttered church. We don’t have lots of committees that we strive to maintain for the sake of preserving said committees. There isn’t a lot of administrative work (though there is some). Membership on the Steering Committee is fluid without set amounts of time. Church Membership in general doesn’t require lots of hoops to jump through.
Christ United has done a lot of decluttering up until this point. I see all of this as a good thing.
The list of “Wise Thoughts” that we have here also gives me hope. Number one on this list is this: “It is okay to change, break, or eliminate some traditions.”
Here’s another favorite one: “4. We will err on the side of giving permission to innovative ministries, no matter how off-the-wall it may seem at the time.”
And another good one: “5. It is better to innovate, take risks, make mistakes, and ask for forgiveness than it is to safeguard the status quo.”
We have words like “innovate,” “change,” “risk” throughout the "Wise Thoughts" document. These were all written before I ever set foot here.
These wise thoughts are what I have been most impressed with, and what drew me to want to be, pastor here. You don’t see many churches have these kinds of wise thoughts. Because the truth is that these are thoughts that are needed to be vibrant into the future.
Lean and Agile
What all of this means is that we’re able to be lean and agile. We’re like a small chipmunk versus a big tortoise. A chipmunk can easily and quickly change course when it becomes necessary. A tortoise cannot.
I believe the issues of today require us to be agile and lean as a church. And this is certainly what I’ve found here at Christ United.
We have been trying new things here. Lots of new things, actually. We added the Faith Word of the Week to worship last fall. We have LGBTQ Bible studies. We have Straight/LGTBQ Bible studies. We have Meditative Worship. We have “The Chosen” Bible studies. We’re advertising on Facebook. We have added 7 new members since I started over a year ago.
We continue to serve at Southside Community Kitchen about once a month.
Sure, there could be other ways we could be serving out in the community, the same way this church in the past went out to homeless people and brought them meals. But we are at least asking the question of how to do more outreach and serve more of the needs in the community. We can’t find that answer if we first don’t ask the question. Part of the way we are answering that question specifically, is how to better use our property.
Out of any church that can survive into the future, I believe we are most poised to do so.
I have hope. I hope you do as well.
Peace and blessings,