Hopes for the Church in 2012 and Beyond

We want . . .

to be a church that weighs deeply the suffering of the world; that mourns it, contemplates it, and takes responsibility for it by contributing in some way and somehow to systemic change – politically, economically, and culturally – both locally and globally.

to be a church that extends healing and forgiveness by first recognizing our own need for healing and forgiveness.

to be a church that confesses individual sins and constantly calls for repentance; but in recognition of the costliness of social and structural sin, does not overemphasis or reduce sin to the personal-“private” level.

to be a church that is constantly journeying on the path of discipleship and transformation while inviting others into the same journey.

to be a church that honors both the revelation and mystery of God, guarding against the idolatrous distractions of human-centeredness and otherworldliness respectively.

to be a church that does not hesitate to profess that Jesus is Lord, but that, in faith, humbly prepares a place at the table for the non-Christian and religious other and consistently articulates eschatological hope for everyone.

to be a church that does not fear – fear the consequences of prophetic action, speaking truth to power, or the risks that come from making real material sacrifices for the cause of God’s justice.

to be a church that does not take itself too seriously and spends time resting, laughing and enjoying the simple pleasures and gifts of life.

to be a church that does not worry about money – not because it doesn’t matter or isn’t needed, but because we do not organize and establish ourselves in such a way that requires utter dependence on it.

to be a church that is structured to actually direct a sacrificial portion of its resources not toward its own institutional preservation and vertical growth but toward the needs of others.

to be a church that is led by the work of the people, where leadership is both democratized and earned and where the reproduction and training of new leaders is not outsourced to higher education professionals.

to be a church that proclaims the gospel but does not try to control it, where theological authority is shared and open, marked by generous and deep orthodoxy.

to be a church that is intentional, patient, and unbusy; that does not over-plan or compete with other churches to attract new members, but that at the same time strives to live contagiously and make disciples.

to be a church that reaches out relationally and focus on true friendship; that builds trust with neighbors and works together with community partners to better society.

to be a church that does not mistake the meaning of counter-culturalism with culture warfare, and that instead seeks to subvert the status quo by implementing revolutionary social practices.

to be a church that loves God and worships out of an authentic place of awe and appreciation for who God is – a God who has given us good news; who is righteous, just, gracious, sovereign, and desires redemption for all.

In sum, we want to be a church that loves, and that in doing so, participates passionately and faithfully in the Holy Spirit’s already-enacted mission and ministry of reconciliation for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

In a sense, this is just my list.  But I didn’t write it alone, and I want it to be ours.  Maybe you can relate, have concerns, or other hopes and prayers.

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