The future of Church

For all those who have been burnt by Church, and thrown the baby out with the bath-water..

What is the future of organized religion? Whatever it is, I hope that we will have the courage to stop rewarding and confirming peoples egos and calling it morality, ministry or church. I hope that we will have lower expectations of leadership and the institution and therefore less need to rebel against it or unnecessarily depend upon it. True leadership is quite rare in my experience and cannot be “ordained” or created by title, office, or costume. Many people are upset with the Church because they expected too much from it. Accept it for what it is and for what it isn’t.

– Richard Rohr


~ by humblemonkey on July 30, 2009.

6 Responses to “The future of Church”

  1. No…

  2. Interesting post. Oh…….organized religion. You make good points. It’s sometimes hard to live ‘with’ it. But we wouldn’t want to live ‘without’ it. For me….as I have gone through many stages of religious growth. The small rural church I grew up in was wonderful. All members were neighbors. Voting was done by the ‘show of hands.’ And ‘disagreements’ were unheard of. After I married and went to my husband’s home church, the first ten years were great. Then some ‘know-it-alls’ came onto the scene and caused quiet a stir of trouble. From then on, I understood that my spiritual joy did not depend on any congregation. My spiritual joy came from increased fellowship with the Father. ‘Church’ then became secondary to moving towards my “First Love…Christ.’ Before, while so intensely involved in ‘church’….I couldn’t see the forest for the trees…so to speak. Now…after stepping back to the edge of the forest…I can see more clearly. And you are totally right. “Accept it for what it is…and for what it isn’t.’ And it isn’t and was never intended to be a substitute for fellowship and relationship with Christ. The more we draw close to the ‘source’ of our righteousness…..the more we want to serve our fellow man. The more we ‘search the scriptures to see whether those things be true’….the less we place our focus and faith in the pastor. Rather we direct it where it should be…in the one true Shepherd…Christ.

    Good post. Thanks.

    • Internet Elias, thanks for your heartfelt and insightful reply! I appreciate hearing your story and the journey you are on. Mine is very similar. =) See my reply to E.D Jones below for some more thoughts.

  3. I cannot help but be upset with the “Church”. I cannot settle for accepting it for what it is, or isn’t. Why? Because many “Christian” churches are overflowing with deception. When it comes to carrying out the mission Jesus assigned to us, I believe many churches do more harm than good. They actually hinder the furtherance of the kingdom of God.
    The real victims in this drama are seekers, who just want to learn something about this man named Jesus Christ, or almighty God. So they look to a church for answers. And more often than not, they are not presented with the truth. They are fed deceptions and misconceptions.
    I’m not against church. I’m just against deception. Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

    • E.D, thanks for your honesty. I think I can appreciate where you are coming from, especially after visiting your blog and reading some of your thoughts.

      Being upset with the Church is very natural and very commonplace. It is an inevitability for most of us after the first ‘honeymoon’ stage of Christian life gives way to reality. In that sense, being upset with the Church is a good ‘middle’ But I think it is a poor ‘end’.

      As Christians, we constantly live in a place of tension between the Kingdom we long for, and the one we see around us. Often, it is other Christians who are the source of this upset. This is regrettable, but it always happens when people are lazy with their spirituality.

      However, Church itself is not the problem I think. If we did away with CHurch and used some other model of creating Christian community and preserving wisdom traditions, we’d just come up with a whole other bunch of problems. Because we’re human, and humans stuff everything up, over and over again.

      Whatever denomination (or even religion) we belong to, human nature (especially in a post-enlightenment western society) is geared towards familiarity, consistency, security, comfort and tribalism. That’s why it is so easy to let a Church or a Pastor do our thinking and growing for us. Lets be honest.. we’ve all been lazy about our spirituality! God is much bigger then any one church or tradition and if we equate the Kingdom with the Church, we are in for a big disappointment I think. However, that does not mean the Church doesn’t have an important part to play. This is most evident in periods of history when the Church has been persecuted, and its witness burned all the brighter for it.

      Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. As grown ups, we need to be able to live in tension between the world we see, and the world we long to create. When we have a healthy appreciation for the strengths of Church (accountability, orthodoxy, support, encouragement, richness of wisdom and tradition etc) then we benefit greatly from these, and are able to (at worst) tolerate its failings, or at best, be a active agent in its transformation.

  4. Will,
    Your reply is right on; a great addition to your original post. Thanks. E.D.

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