Post Church-Angst Living

Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President

So many of us now are beyond it. We are beyond the hand-wringing, ruminating, and even grieving the loss of Christendom in our culture. So many of us are
beyond it now…perhaps we are reaching a tipping point or critical mass for newer expressions of the Christian gospel. So many are hungry for living in the Way of Jesus, engaging our present world as we find it with the robust, life-giving love of God expressed through Christ. This train has left the station, picking up speed with every foray into Holy Spirit inspired movement, moving into post church-angst living.

We’ve been describing this move from Christendom to Christian Movement now for years. Admittedly, there are some Christians and churches still in the early stages of recognition and acceptance of this Postmodern reformation underway, resulting in church-angst. They are bewildered, discombobulated, upset, irritated, frustrated, and nostalgic. All these emotions collect up together influencing their faith communities (churches) to experience an ongoing angst running through most everything. Typically this church-angst is unnamed, yet the disciples in these congregations feel it and know it. (To assess where your congregation is in its transition, download free chapter 2 of Shift with this link)
So, here’s the invitation to those who are not yet beyond Postmodern initiated church-angst: Let it go as quickly as you can. Come join us on the other side, in post church-angst living. You will find rest for your souls and healing for your spirit. Here is what so many individual disciples, clergy, church staff, and congregations on the other side of church-angst are discovering.

Freedom from the onerous task of propping up institutions who have run their course

Beyond church-angst, disciples are liberated from the burden of trying to keep it going just one more year or one more cycle. When our organizations lose their life, declining into institutionalism, we must spend extraordinary energy keeping them on life support. You can imagine the liberation and energy rise when we lay that burden down. We don’t mean abandoning your church or denomination. We do mean laying aside the desire prop up what’s irrelevant in our church and denominational expression of the gospel.

Greater objectivity and less anxiety about reshaping our congregations and denominations
When keeping our current model going as long as we can is no longer the goal, then we are freed to consider where to next. Actually, moving beyond church-angst allows us to harvest what’s really good in our traditions, bringing this along into the present and future. When we are not fundamentalists about our previous expression of church, we are freed to more objectively harvest what’s life-giving while allowing the rest to pass away. We continue the ancient/new flow of this Christian Movement. You will find critical thinking is more available to you as the anxiety over keeping things the same recedes beyond church-angst.

Joining God’s ongoing movement, focused on transforming this world
The Christian gospel simply cannot be contained. When we step out of the way, this spiritual river flows into desert places, bringing the fresh foliage of Spring. Just like those early disciples described in Acts, our story is becoming a movement again, captivating the imaginations and efforts of so many disciples. We are seeing Bible Studies breaking out in bars, small groups gathering around Christ in homes each week, worship taking place under bridges, and the most unexpected partnerships forming. Beyond church-angst it’s so good to be part of a hopeful movement again.

Reconnecting with the Holy Spirit

Now I don’t mean to scare you by mentioning the Holy Spirit. Here’s an example of what I mean. Denominational caricatures around faith expression are breaking down as we speak. Recently I was with a Presbyterian USA church (frozen chosen) whose contemporary worship makes Pentecostals look like a shy and reserved people. We are meeting Episcopalian disciples who can’t quit talking about the transforming power of Jesus in their lives. There are Baptist Christians organizing protests and serving as the primary voices in justice movements. The old categories, lines, and caricatures cannot contain the Spirit’s movement anymore….And, thanks be to God.

And there is more. As the unfolding providence of God influences us in this moment, we join our ancient spiritual kin, moving ahead as God’s people for this time. So, let it go. Let go the soul-crushing work of sustaining something which is no longer sustainable. Don’t let church-angst consume you. Come on and join us in post church-angst living, experiencing the fresh winds of the Spirit on your face. Through the power, grace, and love of Jesus Christ our Lord, may it become so.