I cannot even begin to count the number of experts I have heard or read complain about the losses experienced by liberal/progressive (Mainline, Oldline, Sideline) Christianity over the last several decades. I am thankful those voices are beginning to fade as new voices emerge suggesting what this new role means and how God can and is working in and through it.
Amy Butler, senior minister of Riverside Church, recently stated that the continued trend toward marginalization “is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a long time.” Additionally, she understands this to open up new possibilities for the church to speak prophetically to the issues of our day. And, she reminds us that “This is God’s work. God’s up to something, and the choice that the church has is, ‘Do you want to be part of it?’”
Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding minister of House for all Sinners and Saints, recently remarked “Now that we’re not aligned with empire and not maintaining our status in society and our power and our influence anymore, now we can get back to being people who love mercy and seek justice and walk humbly.” In that same interview she frames the church’s current work: “The great news is that sometimes God does redemptive things through our projects and our institutions and ourselves despite us.”
Many experts are offering projections about what will happen next. That data and the conversations such enable are important, but such future telling must not be blindly accepted nor viewed with any level of certainty.
As progressive people of faith we believe that God is still God, that God is still speaking, and that we are still God’s people. Perhaps it is time we return to the basics, living faithfully as followers of Jesus, as local communities of faith, and as networks of congregations in Spirit directed ways that are life giving, hope generating, and peace making. Perhaps it is time we embrace our identity, assess and leverage our strengths, speak prophetically, and, in the words of Dwayne D. Royster “change the damn world.”
- Share one or more ways you are excited about being the church in an increasingly post- world (post-Chistendom, post-Christian, post-modern, post-denominational, etc.).
- Do you think it is important that we shift the focus of most of our conversations about future away from a narrative of decline and toward a narrative of strength that builds on our sense of identity? Explain.
- Are you ready to move forward with God or are you currently stuck and either unable or unwilling to move into a future that you cannot clearly see? What about your congregation?