Does the Church have anything left to offer?
Does the church have anything left to offer? Not if we insist on staying in the 16th century, (or even the 19th century), we don’t. And yet it seems many of the words we Christians use to talk about God come from an earlier time, an earlier worldview. Many of us know that, but for reasons I don’t completely understand, we don’t talk about it. As a result scads of people jettison any involvement in the church because when we talk about God we don’t make any sense.
So what? Why should that matter? It matters because it leaves many of us without the spiritual resources we need to live and to grow into our full purpose and potential. Over these last decades, many have come to recognize this and so embarked on a self-guided spiritual journey. Don’t think I’m knocking that here; what else are people to do? My concern is that life’s journey is difficult and confusing. Going it alone is fine as far as it goes, but too often it leaves us isolated and stagnant. We do better when we have the support and encouragement of community seeking to live into their own purpose and potential.
Does the church have anything to offer? The church can offer such a community, but we’ll have to understand our traditions and images in radically new ways, and refocus our work to meet the interests of today’s spiritual but not religious believers. There are many progressive churches emerging now, churches that seek to fulfill their purpose in a world yearning to grow towards the very source of our life together. We are among them.
But there are questions to answer many of them – before people will be willing to involve themselves in a church again. I try to work with the most common ones in the remainder of this essay inevitably in brief. But please understand, I view this essay, like all my preaching, as the first word in a conversation, not the last. For what we seek to understand is beyond thought, a deep mystery. So, who knows . . . I might be wrong.