Monday, February 13, 2012
Not Your Parent's Church . . . A Place to Begin
Well, this blog isn't about that little rural church shutting its doors. This is not an exceptional story as it is happening more and more often in rural areas of our nation--little churches are closing their doors as fewer and fewer people live in rural areas. This blog is not about the demise of rural churches or even rural communities . . . it is about the fact that the "church" is changing and in more ways than one, churches are shutting their doors at an alarming rate due to these changes. The "church" is no longer the "church" of our grandparents or even our parents--the "church" is changing and it is changing quicker than most of us are comfortable with. There is a revolution taking place and as Bob Dylan used to sing, "The times they are a changin'."
Now this blog is not some scholarly or theologically significant argument one way or the other about this changing "church" for I am not particularly a scholar or a theologian--I more of a wise guy with a lot of questions willing to consider all sides of the question or issue. The fact is that the "church" I was trained to serve, the "church" of my parents and grandparents, is no longer working for the world in which I live. It is struggling and statistics show its struggles--the mainline denominations can't slow the flow out the back door to save their lives. At this rate, someone once told me, the "church" as I know it will no longer exist by the time I reach retirement. (Retirement, now that is debatable as to win that will happen! With the current rate of economy and the government constantly raising the age to retire, it could be another 20 to 30 years before I retire. I'll probably die before I get to retire.) News like that kind makes one have to sit up and notice.
The point of the children's rhyme is that it is the "people" that make the church--not the building, not the doctrine, not the rituals, but the people. All of the people. I doubt seriously that the many, many pictures that portray Jesus even come close to what Jesus really looked like--probably far from it. I cannot say what Jesus looked liked, but . . . I have a theory. The theory is simple and is based on the fact that the Bible tells us that we are all created in the image of God--all of us! If this is true, I think that we should be able to take snap shots of all of humanity--from the beginning to now, slap them together in a wonderful mosaic and we would begin to see the image of Christ. And, the "church" is meant to be the body of Christ in the world. It is the people.
I don't have any of the answers, but I have a lot of questions. I am sure that every one out there has a lot of questions. Maybe we ought to sit down, break the bread, lift the cup, and have a conversation about what it means to be "church". At least it is place to begin . . . here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people!