As I write today for the church of tomorrow, I am mindful of an ever-increasing uptake in church bashing. It’s a rising trend. After all, what’s not fun about jumping on a bandwagon that’s rolling through town? If everyone else is criticizing the church, why not join in? But Socrates had a different take on things: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Those of us who have been called out of the institutional church have a job to do. We must build the church of tomorrow in a knowable, sustainable way. Spending energy telling the church of today how wrong she is, might garner a huge following on social media, but in the end, the church of tomorrow must be built—not out of anger, resentment, or disgust over the failure of the church to be who we wish she would be, but out of obedience to the leading of God’s Spirit.
Our parents, and countless generations before them, were handed a faith tradition that they honored. It was their inheritance. Did our parents and grandparents realize that the legacy they passed to their children, was theologically unhealthy, wrong-headed, disobedient, or spiritually abusive? No! They didn’t know.
So, let’s not waste unnecessary energy on bashing the church of our ancestors. The institutional church is a broken entity. That’s a fact. Now, what are we going to do to fix her?
I’m of the opinion that the church of today cannot be ‘fixed’ with human imagination.
We can demand theological changes. We can insist on changes in attitude. We can suggest that a greater degree of love will change the church. We can add coffee shops and cafes to our church buildings. We can meet, with like-minded people, in small home church. All of these are changes have been tried. But, in the end, no amount of human effort can move the church of today, to the place where she needs to be tomorrow. The church is lost at sea. She has lost her way! The church needs a spiritual intervention.
Christian leaders can keep trying different things to weather the present storm, but the human mind will eventually run out of ideas. In fact, after only two decades of trying, people are already running out of ideas. The spirit is willing, but the flesh needs more light. We have arrived at a time and place where only an intervention on the church’s behalf, can point her in the right direction. Only an intervention can give the church what she needs to move forward with clear eyes, and a right spirit. Only an intervention can bring the church to a humble place of complete trust. We need an intervention!
When people stop trying to ‘fix’ the church; when we admit that we don’t know how to ‘fix’ the church; when we can admit our powerlessness – when we get to that point – then we will be ready for God’s intervention on our behalf. That being said, I believe an intervention is already underway. I don’t know the full extent of the intervention, but I believe God gives us what we need, before we know that we need it!
I know that we need a Clock, a Key, and a Net. I also know that no amount of human imagination could ever bring this intervention about! And that poses other questions that must be answered:
Do we believe the church needs an intervention? Is a true spiritual intervention possible in today’s world? Or, do we think interventions, and revelations occurred only in the biblical past? If intervention and revelation is possible, to whom do we believe God’s spirit should speak?
Should God’s Spirit intervene within our theological institutions of higher learning? If so, which of our theological schools of learning should God enter? In other words, which vein of the church universal should God approach? The Catholics? The Baptists? The Presbyterians? The Non-Denominational vein?
Would it be for the best if God’s Spirit revealed a Clock, a Key, and a Net to a successful, high-profile evangelist within Billy Graham’s family? What about someone within the family of Jim Wallis? Or, Joel Osteen’s family? The Pope? Certainly all of these channels hold celebrity status in the world’s eyes. These people are spiritual mentors, to whom many people turn for guidance. Right?
Well, if we know the true character of God, then we know that God’s spirit never chooses to get our attention via the celebrity route! If an intervention on the church’s behalf is to be believed, as a true intervention, then God’s spirit is going to chose the path of silence. No fanfare, no cameras, no lights, and no action that is noticed by the world.
True to God’s method of operation, that’s exactly how the church should expect a spiritual intervention to occur. The lights, cameras, and action will only happen in hindsight, when people look back in time, and realize the importance of her intervention!
In the meantime, I trust God is using all of us who feel called to ‘fix’ the church in mighty ways.