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The CHURCH of the Future?

May 7, 2007

Something that i have been contemplating with over the past few months is relational outreach.

For me this concept and way of thinking has developed out of much thought and debate on a topic that is very progressive in our lives as people, and even more progressive in the church leadership arena.

After hearing a podcast, in which George Barna speak very freely about his book Revolution, I was left in a place of digesting and thinking about what he said.

Barna believes that in the next 20 years, churches will shift from a place of establishment into a place of intimate home relationships (HOME CHURCHES). When asked if he thought that any real “CHURCHES” would continue to exist he said that they would only if they were truly meeting the needs of the people around them.

What I took away from Barna was that people have a real, physical, emotional, spiritual need for relationship and that need for true fellowship is not being met in the midst of the worlds many churches today.

That is interesting to me when I look at the very nature of the body of Christ and the call for KOINONIA, a true intimate fellowship. I guess when I really stop and back away from the scope of the ministry in which many of us are involved; I see that need that so often goes unmet.

I spoke this week with a very highly credentialed seminary professor that acknowledged that many churches that he has attended look at a time during their services and in that time, which is normally found during the drawl of announcements, they ask their audience to shake someone’s hand and fellowship.

He said that all to often that is the extent of “KOINONIA” and in that we are missing the target of true fellowship.

To often the church tenderly wraps their arm around the shoulder of the young person in need and ask them how they are, to which they answer “fine” without telling us the truth that for the last five years they have been raped by their father.

After all, if we were to be told the horrific truths of the things that take place in the lives of the people around us how would we as the evangelical church of America respond?

It seems that the place in which we are able to experience a trust relationship with one another is not often accomplished within the arena of the four walls of the church.

And in this conclusion I come to a place where I discover the truth that it may be quite possible for the end of the established church to be drawing near.

It may be possible that the church of the future will be a place where small groups of people are gathering around the world worshiping together, growing daily as they are discipled in that small church, and they are truly experiencing “KOINONIA” fellowship in such a way that they are transformed thru truth and accountability with others and the people around them are drawn to God because of these relationships.

As church leaders we must be intentional in developing plans and strategies that call people to a deeper place of intimacy with one another. However we do it we’ve got to create places for these KOINONIA relationships to be formed.

thoughts?

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4 comments

  1. i think the church is the relationships, not some institution. so going to a more relational model is a good thing. however, i dont think it will happen. (these are broad generalities) heres why:

    1. americans love to organize things and make them efficient
    2. americans love big buildings
    3. americans love to create gadgets (or methods) to do something a person can
    4. americans spend too much time in cars and not enough walking
    5. americans dont love cities
    6. americans love suburban model
    7. americans are private not public
    8. americans love the independent lonesome cowboy attitude
    9. americans are too busy making money to make friends
    10. americans love giving a beggar a dollar, but hate actually talking with the guy

    all of these things may or may not be true about americans. but i have found in my experience most of these hold true for many people around us. with these characteristics, i dont see too much hope for smaller relational modeled churches. in fact, i see the opposite, larger, more streamlined churches.

    even look at a great church like andy stanley’s in atlanta. great preacher. great vision. lots of growth. even though stanley tries to split it up into smaller churches, it keeps getting bigger. in my visits to his church, there is little community is lots of show. it doesnt mean there were bad intentions or anything. just americans prefer that style.

    is there hope then? yes, one church at a time.

    shalom
    peter


  2. Hi there – welcome to the blogosphere! I wish you had a bio so I knew who I was talking to… I’d love to hear more from you, so keep on blogging…!!

    I agree with your second last paragraph, but not your last one. I think where church leaders get it wrong is when they feel they have to engineer something to make it happen. Thus, I object to the idea of “as church leaders we must be intentional in developing plans and strategies…”. I believe God’s people are perfectly capable of creating their own environments where they can grow, and that they don’t need this to be manufactured for them.

    It’s not that I object to strategizing, it’s that I think the grassroots need to be released to strategize for themselves. Doctrine might be twisted and plain wrong. Expression might be over the top. But people would at least be owning their faith rather than letting themselves be spoon-fed from those who take on their spiritual responsibility for them.


  3. mark

    i dont think you and i disagree too much. i am not all for engineering a church, but i am also not for complete lack of order. there is no question, that paul was very concerned with bringing some structure to the churches he planted. this doesnt however mean a full framework. there is flexibility. and ultimately each church must respond to its own environment. but i strongly disagree that we shouldnt be intentional.

    if we arent intentional about change, then there will be none. yes, God can do as He wills. i am not limiting God’s stepping in. but i also know that we ARE the Body of Christ. God DOES choose to work through us and reach the world through us. so if we arent intentional about how we live, we arent going to be effective as the Body. intentional does not however mean rote, nor does it mean that we arent led by the Spirit, nor does it mean there is no flexibility.

    shalom
    peter


  4. This is a pretty broad topic to pin down to an either/or decision. If the question is “will organized religion grow or dwindle in the coming years” maybe the answer is both. With the advent of the internet, technology has allowed people to choose to ‘virtually’ attend services around the globe. With the instinct of self preservation and the current movement to commercialize the gospel into ‘relevant’ sound bites, cute T shirts, comfortable buildings and services, there is a brand war rising. Look at your statement – as the evangelical church – the evangelical church doesn’t exist. The church exists and as long as it does, there will always be truth. Which brings us to the last conclusion that intentional, life giving relationships will continue to grow and may even find new areas to impact by exploring the deep connections being made in cyberspace everyday.
    So I feel that the brand war that has already commenced will give rise to the mega-mega church that rivals the saturation of the catholic church. This is a brand that has changed to meet the wishes of the people and at times, negotiated the truth for increased brand power. Joel Osteen, Jentzen Franklin, TBN – all brands, intentionally catering to specific groups. Is there anything wrong with the brand? No. Is there anything wrong with finding truth only within the brand? Of course! A responsible brand would admit to this, however if a brand says that it might not have all the answers, it could look inferior to the other brands claiming to know all.

    So, in the wise words of Paul, let us test everything – hold fast to that which is good.



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