We will not think the new church into existence.
Not that I have anything against thinking. In reality, we now need great clarity and disciplined reflection about theological and ethical matters. But the church, as an organization, is not set up to do intentional Research and Development. Most often, we can incorporate some modifications; massive re-thinking is not part of the organizational culture. We are built to preserve.
That said, the history of the church does contain examples of innovative movements so it is not unreasonable to speculate that such might happen again.
So where will the innovations arise?
One clearly visible location is the franchise that, for one reason or the other, seems ripe for closure. In recent years, many a fresh development has sprouted among the remnants of congregations who say, “Well, what have we got to lose? We might as well go for it!”
The kindling that fuels new fire is not usually a new theory of church but deep feelings of frustration or curiosity that the Christian faith needs to be more intimately connected to the people that actually form the neighbourhood.
The other setting for innovation is the church version of the guy who develops an automatic transmission in the basement or a software program in a college dorm. In a growing number of places people are experimenting with spiritual life and the kinds of communities that support what, they would
Wandering in the woods, questions constantly appear: do we head towards the sound of water or follow this game trail; do we go down into the gully trusting a way up the other side exists or do we stick to the high ground; what resources do we have that will sustain us, what do we need to carry forward for the sake of survival and what can be emptied from the pack to lighten the load and increase our nimbleness and stamina?
The future church will not come through deduction but through
The future church will not come through deduction but through attention to the needs, frustrations, and opportunities of the present.