If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that we talk a lot
about the future of the church--how we need to move into a time of
innovation as well as transformation. Dennis Sanders recently reflected on this post, and I asked him if I could put his comments here.
Do we spend more time in closed rooms--trying to articulate to other church professionals why we are right--than we spend speaking to the media and articulating to the larger world why we believe in the inclusive love of God?
Why are we losing congregations? There are many factors. If
I’m painting with a broad brush, I’d say that it is because we are largely rural, white and older. What can we do to ensure a vital future? Focus on urban
God is concerned with the health of women. God cares about teenagers who end up in a lifetime of poverty. Jesus healed the bleeding woman 2,000 years ago, and I think if he walked the streets today, he just might hand her a packet of pink pills.
What are we doing to combat poverty
in our country and make sure that we join the voices of the prophets who speak
out against injustice? Often denominational churches work hard on these issues,
but we do it within our particular silos and we may not effectively
communicate our work.
So can we put Newt Gingrich's personal life and rhetoric aside and focus on how we can fix our families? Can we move the discussion of family away from demonizing same-gender relationships and taking rights away from women? Can we have an honest discussion about what we can do to help American families?
Once you finally get a job, then you need to get a “real” job. Then you can expect to be laid off at least once in your life. Then you have to retool and enter the workforce again. Then even if you get your “dream” job, you might come to the realization that you’re destroying your family and your personal life, and the dream becomes a bit of a nightmare. Then you begin to realign all your goals. Then you begin to look toward retirement, and you begin to imagine what your vocation is going to be when you retire.
You might be on a committee that thinks that a candidate needs that extra training before they ought to be ordained. They could use some time in a hospital setting or in a real world setting before they earn that REV before their name. If you are, then let me tell you something that the seminary student under your care can’t tell you: students can’t afford it any longer.
As we’re all in the midst of Advent longing, I realize that I’m turning 40 in a couple of days. Which puts me in an odd position, since I write and speak about ministering with people in their 20s and 30s.
More than half of our small congregations cannot afford a full-time pastor, and many
associate pastor positions were cut during the recent economic downturn.
These are churches where
seminary graduates would normally be heading, so what are the
congregations doing instead?