Archive for ◊ July, 2016 ◊

• Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Author: Gretchen


I recently heard from the member of a church in transition, whose congregation had taken part in an assessment of their situation based on the following set of questions:

1) What is your church good at?
2) What is your church not good at?
3) If resources were not an issue what would you like your church to be good at?

These are questions that typically appear, in one form or another, in the discernment processes of congregations. In this case, church members did answer the questions. However, their answers were fairly “earthbound” and by and large, made no real connections with God. This, wisely, was of great concern to the church leader with whom I spoke.

As I looked over the questions, it became very clear to me why the answers had very little to do with God. Do you see it, too? Right! The questions have very little to do with God as well. If we expect the conclusions church members reach about the present and future to reflect God, then the questions we pose must reflect God in the first place. For example, the questions above may be transformed and enriched as follows:

1) When is your church best at glorifying God?
2) How do we fail at glorifying God?
3) If resources were not an issue, how do you envision your congregation
glorifying God more effectively?

I will admit that my version of these questions assumes a specific, clear cut theological understanding: that the purpose of the church is to glorify God in the world, but whether or not that is your congregation’s basic belief, the reframing of these queries in the language of faith, to involve God and get people to consider God in the process of discerning the church’s future, will result in responses that are faith-based and God-centered.

Truth be told, this is just one example of the ways in which the folks in our churches approach conversations about the future. We tend to get so mired in our very real and urgent concerns about the money and the building that we begin looking at the future from an almost completely human perspective. But the future of “The Church” and our own congregations are intimately connected with God and who we understand ourselves to be in relation to God. If we do not approach these very basic question about the church’s existence using a faith perspective, then nothing we do will reflect the guidance of God’s Spirit and our future will be built on a human foundation rather than on the cornerstone which is Jesus Christ.