This isn’t news: we need a new church for a new world.
Yesterday at a meeting of local clergy, one of my colleagues enthusiastically extolled Diana Butler Bass’s thinking and writing on Christian churches in America today. What we have known as church is passing away. Our culture, while desperate to hang onto the trappings of Christianity, is increasingly indifferent to the message and meaning of the Christ. The challenge is to imagine what church will be, as we move into a different day. What, some 50 years ago, used to be the implicit support of the wider culture, is no longer support at all.
Some followers of Jesus are already practicing new ways of being the church, responding to the challenges of our time with imagination and faithfulness. These new ways aim to shed the weight of so-called traditions that have nothing to do with the gospel. For example, instead of spending energy on self-pre-occupied institutional maintenance, some renewed expressions of church explicitly and intentionally make sure that their energy is focused on serving others. Now there’s an idea to make church relevant again!
I love this Brian McLaren quotation: “If you have a new world, you need a new church. You have a new world.”