Friday, November 5, 2010

what I hear / what I don't hear

As a pastor, I hear lots of thoughts and opinions about the church; I hear from people who are and who aren't part of church. Often when people share their opinions, it seems to me that they're not interested in having a conversation. Rather, they're interested in sharing their opinion, and usually they're interested in assuming that I agree.

From church people, I seem to hear nostalgia for the way church used to be. I hear this especially from older folks who remember that the church of their youth occupied a more prominent place in society. But I also hear the same nostalgia from younger people (though not as many). I guess they've heard their elders' nostalgia, and assume that their memories are accurate. And to go hand in glove with nostalgia for the past, I hear people lamenting that the church today isn't like it used to be.

(As an aside, I'm convinced that if the church has a prominent place in society, it's too easy for the church to assume that the dominant norms of society are Christian. I believe that they certainly are not. The church is better able to be prophetic, and to preach the Gospel, if the church hasn't assumed that its primary role is as promoter of good morals. The Gospel is not about morals, but that's a topic for somewhere else.)

What I lament is what I don't hear from church people. I don't tend to hear that people are excited about what the church is doing, or (theologically) what Holy Spirit is doing in and through the church. This may be the fault of church leadership. It may be because there really isn't anything exciting happening in and through the church. More than those, though, I believe that people aren't excited about the present because we're stuck in the past.

Further, I lament that I don't hear people dreaming about the future. The thing is, if we're only looking back, we can see neither what Holy Spirit is doing right now nor where G-d is calling us in the future.

What would it look like for the church to pull its head out of the sands of time so that we can focus on mission and ministry today and tomorrow. Surely God's best work isn't behind us.


1 comment:

  1. ok!!! I'll add my $.02 to yours in complete agreement. Nothing is as it used to be, the challenges and blessing are different today, and all peoples inside/outside the church need to adjust attitudes and change with the times; this is now, not the past.