Robust Church Rising
Guess what? Though the Church is always changing, we are not always in a state of discontinuous change (radical change) like we have been the last 18 years. The Church, along with other organizations and institutions in our world, will get to the other side of this Postmodern transition. Plenty are already there.
As we travel closer and closer to the other side, we are noticing a growing yearning and longing. What we are seeing is hard to put into words….yet it’s a very clear and present hunger for robust church experience. So many disciples of Jesus are done with the hand-wringing and angst which accompanied the deformation of church-as-we-have-known-it. How long can we live in the grief which comes from loss of familiar expressions of church? Well, it seems that some can wallow there interminably. So many others of us are done with that; moving beyond the grief to new energy and forward movement. I guess what we are observing is a palpable hunger for genuine, robust church community and expression. Many Jesus-followers are ready to lean into God’s mission, forming church around God’s world makeover project (KOG).
So, how do we know where we are in this transition? John 15: 1-12 offers a good metaphor to help us discern our progress in the journey. God prunes the parts of church which no longer serve God’s purposes. The pruning involved in this transition to the Postmodern world removes several aspects of church we thought we needed. When we are making the transition, often God:
Prunes the need to be in the cultural mainstream, along with high approval ratings and social reinforcement by our culture
Prunes the need to spend excessive time on internal and inconsequential doctrinal debates
Prunes the need for overly complex structures which drain our energy and consume our time
Prunes (heals and transforms) the grief, anxiety, and overall angst resulting from demise of privileged position; culture of loss
While the pruning is in process, new growth is rising too. When we branches are connected to the vine, new energy flows into us as needed. Fruit results; making for robust church experience. Some indicators of this flavorful fruit’s ripening are:
Closer connection to the energy source (vine) resulting in spiritual vigor
Releasing baggage from church-as-we-have-known-it
Less grief and more hope
Fewer “O No’s” and more “O Yes’s”
Increased freedom for holy experimenting
Church cultures with organized around adventure and pilgrimage
Longing, yearning, hungering…these are indicators Christian disciples are reaching for new fruit on the vine. Robust church is rising up even as we speak. May we embrace our freedom in Christ, claiming permission to be new expressions of church. Robust church is rising. Thanks be to God.
Mark Tidsworth, President
Pinnacle Leadership Associates