I write this blog for two reasons. The first reason has always been the same – I’ve got a lot going through my head and I’ve always needed somewhere for it to go. The blog is the best place for it. And it has the added benefit of not driving my wife crazy hearing all of this.
But in recent times, I realized a second reason of why I write this blog. It’s not to convince anyone of anything – I doubt I’ve ever convinced anyone of anything. Rather, what I’ve written has been an encouragement for others. I know this because people have reached out to me and told me. Your notes, emails, messages, phone calls, etc have all expressed deep emotion and feeling. You’ve expressed how the words you’ve read conveyed what you have believed. You’ve told me that when you read these posts, you know you aren’t alone. You have no idea how much that means to me. It means that all the crazy stuff that I’ve thought isn’t so crazy after all and that I’m not alone either. In fact, there’s plenty of us all thinking similar thoughts. And we’re not even a small minority either.
Often it seems like there’s this momentum to just maintain things the way they are. As if there is a huge number of people who want to keep it that way. Here’s what I’ve found – that’s just not the case. Often, it’s just a vocal minority who speaks up quickly shouting out the majority who would gladly change things.
Which is why I’m not going to shut up. Which is why I won’t stop blogging. Which is why I will continue preaching about transformation and life, death, and resurrection. It’s why I’ll keep talking about how the church needs to change. It’s why I’ll keep pushing for innovation in the church. Because I don’t think the vast majority of the church is actually in favor of maintaining things the way they are. Why would they? It isn’t working and it hasn’t been working for decades. All one has to do is observe.
I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to keep being vocal about the reality that the church can not go backward in time. That it can’t go to the past, to the whitewashed nostalgia of a few decades ago – the supposed glory days of when the pews were fulls. They weren’t that glorious if we are honest with ourselves. We’re using selective memories to remember the good parts and forget the not so great parts. We’re turning the past into a sanitized black and white 1950’s sit-com.
You know what wasn’t happening during those glory days – honesty. There were plenty of people who were lying about who they were sexually because if they came out as LGBTQ+, they would have been ostracized. If they got divorced, they would been kicked out. If they would have been honest about the sexual abuse or domestic abuse they suffered from, they would been shunned or blamed. If they would have been honest about the depression they were struggling with, they would have been told to just cheer up. If they would have been honest about the addictions they struggled with they would have been kicked out. If they would have been honest with a whole host of so many things, they would have been asked to leave. If you wanted to fill the pews, the best ways to do that was to maintain the facade that everyone was just fine.
Who wants to go back to that? I honestly don’t.
I want to be part of a community of faith that can handle being with people who are broken and vulnerable with each other as they are. I want to be with people who trust one another. I want to be with people who aren’t trying to put up a facade. Because that’s what church is ultimately about. That’s where we encounter Jesus fully – where he walks amongst us. He is present where there is trust and vulnerability. Where there is honesty and brokenness. Where people can just be real about who they are and can feel safe being themselves around others. It’s in that environment where love exists and thrives. It’s in that environment where forgiveness is more than just a concept but a way of life. It’s in that environment where grace and mercy are lived in community. It’s in that environment where we get to experience the unfolding of the Kingdom of God and get a glimpse of the foretaste of the feast to come.
That’s why I’m not going to shut up about change and transformation for the church. That’s why I’m not going to stop pushing, and preaching, and blogging, and speaking. That’s why I’ll keep saying all of this. Because this is our calling. This is where the church is heading. The current version of the church is ending and it is shifting to something new – thanks be to God! It’s shifting to something more in line with the unfolding of the Kingdom of God. Something more healthy. Something more abundant. Something more innovative. Something more transformative. Something more natural.
I see the church shifting from the institution and its memberships and rules that we have to a time of innovation and experimentation. A time in which we try so many things. Some will work and many thing will fail. A time of learning. A time in which there are institutions that adapt and change in order to survive and thrive and house churches that come into being and partnerships that take root and new ways of being church and more. A time when there is no one way of being church, but a multitude of ways. A time of reformation and transformation. A time of familiar things to die and new things to be born. A time to experiment. A time for discipleship. A time for service.
This is a time to speak up and to speak boldly. This is a time to not shut up when those who want to maintain shout at us. This is not a time in history to maintain. It is a time to boldly go forward. To push forward in spite of those who will stand in the way, who will resist. Let those who will maintain do what they will. Jesus said “Let the dead bury the dead.”
Now is the time to innovate. Let us go forward. Faith calls us forward to innovate. Not everyone will come along. Go forward anyway. Find those who will go along. Find those will innovate. And move forward. Jesus is calling the church forward. Faith calls us forward. Be the church. Don’t stop. You are not alone. I know you aren’t. I have heard from so many of you. Speak up. Let your voice be known. And support one another. Now is the time. Go forward in faith. You are not alone. Let’s do this together.