When I tell people that I write today for the church of tomorrow, I’m often asked, “How will the church look in the future?” My immediate response is that she will look nothing like the church of today—not even a little! To be certain, no one has a crystal ball, but many souls would like to imagine a future church that is radically different than the present model.
Moreover, if our imagination is rooted in the words of Scripture and fed by healthy theological perspectives, a new vision for the church of tomorrow doesn’t need to be disconnected from the past in order to be wildly different in the future. The church can still be the church—but transfigured!
Most people would agree that the church of today needs a future vision that will enable her to become a more effective presence in the world. As stated so well in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (KJV). But, before we can appreciate a new vision for the church’s future image, a veil must be removed from our spiritual eyes.
From 1996 to 2000, I experienced such a removal. I freely admit that I was unaware of my blindness until the lifting process started. As the veil was removed, layer by layer, I was introduced to some of the most familiar words in the Bible—words that I had read a hundred times over—yet suddenly the words revealed perspectives that had not previously entered my thinking. Old words turned to new understandings.
Lifting the layers of a veil is an issue of spiritual timing and readiness. Everyone lives with the same veil and, like me, we don’t know the veil exists. Removing the veil is a God-thing that will happen for each individual when it’s meant to happen! To begin the unveiling, we need only admit to the following:
We don’t know everything there is to know about God, Jesus, Spirit or the Bible!
It’s a simple admission that will enable us to move into the church of tomorrow with an open mind.
To answer the initial question regarding the future appearance of the church of tomorrow, I can offer a foundational image to consider. “The church of tomorrow will have a clock in her head, a key in her heart, and a net in her hands.” The Clock, The Key, and The Net are three tools that address the subjects of time orientation, common language, and organizational caretaking. The tools are veiled beneath layers of more obvious information, yet essential to the church’s future thinking, being, and doing. Three administrative tools sitting in the ancient words of Scripture … waiting to used!
It is often said that God gives us what we need before we know that we need it. We may not know that we need a clock, a key, or a net, but we can be certain that old inspirations are intended to speak to the church in new ways as time unfolds.
Thoughts along the way,
Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow