Saturday, November 18, 2006

What Will the Church Look Like in Fifty Years?--Ministry

There are many "entry points" into the life of the church. In the past, this was often the Sunday School. For many people today, it is the worship service. For others, it is the opportunity to be involved in one of the ministries of the church--some within the walls of the church facility (Upward Basketball is an example) and some in the community (Habitat, etc.).

The door of ministry, especially ministry outside the walls of the church, will provide the connecting point with many non-churched people in coming years. Young adults are often looking for places to serve, and the church can provide those opportunities.

Working alongside Christians provides the non-churched person the chance to develop relationships with believers. Perhaps one of the things the church of the future needs to do is to prepare members for this type of interaction. This doesn't mean learning a pat "presentation of the gospel." It does involve knowing one's own story, how that relates to God's story, and being able to relate it in a loving, humble manner (but that gets into Christian formation, the topic for another blog).

George Hunter (see The Celtic Way of Evangelism) introduced me to the concept of the powerful witness of a serving community. This is the pattern he found in early Irish monastic communities. These communities were not restricted to those who had taken vows; certainly, they were at the center of the community, but many others attached themselves to the monasteries because of the benefits they saw there. After awhile, they learned enough to identify with the Christian community personally.

Perhaps the church of the future will do a better job than we have done in giving people on the edges the opportunity to "taste and see" what the Christian faith is all about by observing that faith in action.

1 comment:

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

In 50 years, Christianity may well be among the minority of American beliefs. Things will get closer and closer to the culture of the early church I suspect. The good part of that is that Christians may get back to the faith as a "movement" rather than an institution. I fear that many of the church buildings will be filled with fewer and fewer people. That might get folks out into the marketplace to meet in nontraditional settings.