Tuesday, 9 March 2010

21st Century Church

What is 21st century church?  What does it look like?  How is it different?  Church is the gathered body of people who come to worship Christ.  It is not the building, although where the church meets does effect the way in which church happens.  If the building is set out formally with pews and pulpit then no matter how informal you try to make a service formality will still exist because of the suroundings.  The church in Stroud where I am a member is very formal in structure although the services have become less so over the years.  I guess a set of drums and a worship band brings an uptempo lift.  

As I complete my MA in missional studies I wonder what God requires of me as far as my next step in the journey is concerned.  Sometimes I feel frustrated that he only every tells me the very next step and not what the future holds.  Although that does not stop me dreaming.  I dream about a church where young and old meet together in harmony.  Each appreciating the gifts, energy, and wisdom that they all bring to the body of Christ.  I dream of a church that hungers after God.  That steps out in faith even when the path is unknown.  A church that loves one another, and forgives each other's faults and weaknesses.  But most of all, I dream of revival and an openness to the Spirit of God.  There is a fire that burns inside of me and longs to be let loose.  In God's time I pray that revival will come to this land again and I pray that we will all be ready for it.    

In the meantime, I wonder what I can do to engage people in the gospel message.  Jesus is very much alive for me but for many he is a figure of the past.  How can I be Jesus to those who have yet to find him?  How can I preach the gospel in a real way that brings Jesus back from the dead for those who don't realize that he has been ressurected and lives today.  I know that in my own small way I can do my bit but together we can make a real impact.

I must admit to being a bit of a treckie at this point.  I do have a love of science fiction and particularly like the Star Trek Voyager and the Next Generation series.  I was relaxing yesterday watching an episode where the crew of Voyager where trying to sneek onto a borg ship.  The borg, for those of you who don't know, are a collective which means that they think as one body.   I wonder what the church would look like if we all thought the same and did the same thing.  Personally, I think life would be rather boring.  As they say variety is the spice of life!  Whilst we may fall out from time to time over issues such as, women in ministry or the place of homosexuals in the church, difference of opinion is healthy.  It is what we do with our differences of opinion that really matters.  We may choose to stand on our pedestal and say you are wrong and I am right or, we can come together and discuss our opinions and discern what Christ would do in our situation.  Jesus is the one who invites us to come into relationship with him, despite our faults.  He loves us for who we are, just as we are.
The borg cube travels through space looking for unsuspecting people whome the borg can assimilate and turn into creatures just like them.  On meeting a spaceship or planet the words, 'We are the borg, you will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile.' are heard.  Whilst the church's role is to make disciples of all men and women it's role is not to assimilate them and make them into drones as part of the collective (as the borg do). But, rather to disciple people and show them the ways of Christ by pointing them in the right direction.  Whilst we journey together our own walk with Christ is a personal one.  One where the journey is often lonely and frightening and not always easy.  However, as I have pointed out before, Christ journeys with us.  For me 21st century church is one which embraces the outcast and loves the individuals that comes through its doors as Christ loves them.  It is a church that reaches people in a relevant way.  If that means doing church differently - great - lets do it!  Church is for me about supporting one another, loving one another, worshiping together and journeying together.  We may not get it right all the time, that's OK - the point is that we keep on going until we get it right and have some fun along the way.
Hmm... nearly time for another episode of Star Trek, must go!!