Rev. Dr. Craig Howard
On Sunday, I had the pleasure to visit our church in Ferguson, just north of St. Louis. In his sermon, pastor Michael Trautman challenged the congregation to take repentance seriously. “Repentance transcends the social/political structures we are faced with,” he said. Michael spoke of repentance as being part of a three pillar system: repentance, forgiveness, and healing. These pillars are held together with prayer, as we seek to be transformed disciples of Jesus Christ.
The power of this message is that Michael has the courage to say that change is part of what it means to be a Christian; a disciple of Christ. God is not content for us to improve or just to be better. God is calling us to be transformed.
This same message holds true for the congregations in our presbytery.
My ministry in executive leadership has focused on leading our denomination into the Future Church. I am certain that there will be a church in the future. The question is what will that church look like? I am not sure if that church will be like our land-locked urban structures or spacious suburban plants. Will the Future Church be rural congregations of the faithful few, or will it consist of the mega-churches that are dominating the Christian landscape? Chances are, the Future Church will be as different from what we are currently doing as my smart phone is as different than the rotary dial I grew up with.
As a presbytery, we are called to usher in this church; a church that will be different from what we have and probably operate in a different way than what we know. To get from here to there will take dreaming, imagination, and risk.
So, here is the challenge. Are we stuck trying to do church the same way it was done 50 and 100 years ago, or are we willing to imagine a church community in a different way? Some models are already out there such as Sweaty Sheep (a church built around running and exercise), Creation Labs (a church that builds community around doing art together), or radical ways of doing traditional church like Contemplative Prayer communities or New Monastic communities. (Click here to see more ideas from the 1001 New Worshiping Communities, or here for Fresh Expressions.)
As a presbytery, we must use our Holy imaginations to dream God’s dream for our future. There will be a Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy in the future. With God’s help it will be a transformed community leading all of God’s people into a Future Church.