One of the benefits of being a pastor and not being in a call is that I can think about the wider church and play with ideas without repercussion. I can propose ideas, some very radical in nature. I can question things that many people might hold very dear and have for a long time without fear of consequence. I can say stuff that people know, but they are afraid to say out loud.
I’m just playing with ideas because here’s the reality — the way things are is not working and has not been working for decades. And the church doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. That’s what institutions do though. Institutions exist to maintain things they way they are. Institutions protect themselves. Although I’d say the institution is doing a pretty crappy job of protecting itself — people have been leaving in droves. Correction — in some cases people are fleeing because they feel very unwelcome or unsafe.
Here, let’s say the quiet part out loud — in many congregations, there is extra effort made to keep those who refuse to change satisfied so that they will keep giving — because they have been around for a long time and so many of our congregations are really bad handling conflict in a healthy manner. And in doing so, a message is clearly sent and received. The people who leave are the ones who look to make change, to make updates, to do the work. They leave. They hear the message loud and clear that they are not welcome. That is not a recipe for sustainability or survival. It’s a long, slow, painful death.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It never does. We can do things differently. There are always other options.
Here’s my ideas. And before you jump on my ideas and critic them and blow holes in them, let me offer this. These ideas aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t even know how to implement most of them. They would be messy to transition in to. And yes, people would run away from them — So what? People are running away from the church now. It’s really just a matter of who would be running away. The idea here is that the status quo is not acceptable. And the fact that the church is doing literally nothing about it is beyond words. So, yes, I’m going to propose radical ideas in order to get conversation going. I want people to talk. I want people to get riled up about church. I want people to get angry about the fact that the church is settling for a slow painful death. I want people to debate. I want people to try things. I want people to explore. I want the…