Not that far into my ordained life I began to feel a very intense longing for an experience of ministry that was different from the one that I was having.
When I began to flesh out this feeling a bit more, I realized what I wanted was for the church where I ministered and served to be more like the church I needed and I wanted to be a part of.
In other words, I wanted my church to be a place where my relationships with others were rooted and grounded in love.
And I’m not saying that this was never the case, but it was too often not the case.
I wanted to feel known and seen.
I wanted to be understood and affirmed for who I was.
I wanted honesty and transparency.
I wanted open and honest communication.
I wanted support and authenticity.
I wanted genuine, shared leadership.
I wanted to be able to be courageous and vulnerable without the fear of retribution or the fear of being knocked down.
I wanted all those things that we all want in our church in and our workplace.
But it was more than just wanting them, I wanted to know why they were not there. It really upset me when they were not there.
The more that I think about this idea of the “future of the church,” and the “reimagining of the church,” the more I am convinced and convicted that when we stay focused on structures and methods and models for doing church and strategic plans and all the different ways that we are trying to "do" church better, and make church more “successful,” we are missing the deeper disturbance of the Spirit.
Those structures and methods and models and strategic plans, they matter and there is work to do be done on that level.
But there is a deeper undoing that needs to happen. I am experiencing this undoing in myself and I am hearing about it and seeing it in others with whom I am in relationship with.
Collectively we are so worried about our church dying and our declining attendance and the unsustainability of the project of being church the way that we have set it up (and think it has to be) that we are not even aware that this death we are going through could possibly a good thing.
If all these people were not leaving our churches we wouldn’t be aware that there was a problem.
Although, in my experience, we often misdiagnosing the problem.
I don’t think we need to reimagine our structures, or reimagined how to do church, at least not primarily.
I think we need to reimagine and reclaim our identity as a death and resurrection people.
In the death of "institutional" way of being church that we are experiencing, we are being invited to become who we truly are--
a people who are never finished changing,
a people who are always being made new,
a people whose identity is always found in losing their lives so God might save them,
a people who are completely and utterly oriented toward Love.
We are still infants when it comes to truly knowing what it means to love-- the love the way God loves.
The work that the church is being called to do in this moment is completely and totally relational.
Which I see as very good news.