The Future Is Bright

There is an increasing awareness in leadership circles about the power of understanding the strengths of people in relation to job performance. Plenty of conversation already exists about that, but I want to throw out an idea that bears more conversation in the Church world.

I believe that whatever the next evolution of the Church looks like, it will be driven by unleashing the potential of people in new and profound ways — rooted in their strengths, or what I would call God-given design. When you develop people and create spaces for their design to match up with their passions, it is course altering for them and for the Kingdom of God.

For example, when you take a person who is designed for creating and developing project infrastructure; and they are passionate about abuse or poverty or child sex trafficking or any of the myriad other causes in this world that merit more of the Church’s attention; and you empower and release them to make a difference — you will find a ministry with powerful results. And yet, it may or may not be able to sustain long-term success. This person can perhaps get things off the ground, but they need people around them to help maximize the functionality of the system itself to more effectively accomplish the heart of what is being done in the first place.

So I want to give a few talking points for the Church to consider moving forward that I believe will be critical if the Church is going to continue to be relevant in our society. I believe these talking points are starting places for the right conversations, not finish lines. But let me be clear, churches that choose to stick their head in the sand and keep doing the same things they are doing today will become increasingly meaningless in our culture at large.

  • Religious tradition will always pull us toward limiting the potential of people, not releasing it. Religion is absolutely necessary. It gives expression to our faith. However, we must be keenly aware of tradition’s tendency to pull us into a dichotomy. Traditions over time become the thing we serve rather than traditions serving people in how they can effectively express their faith in God or to God. We must hold our traditions with an open hand. They may very well become the knives that stabs us if we hold them too tightly.
  • The Church must become exponentially better at empowering and releasing women for ministry. I know this is a touchy subject, but in the realm of abuse or the adult film industry, to name just a couple of examples, the Church does an abysmal job of meeting the needs of the broken. At the core of the problem is that while men are well intentioned, they are painfully inadequate and the Church is woefully under trained to deal these issues. A man is absolutely the worst candidate for counseling and journeying with a battered or sexually abused woman. Asking this woman to trust another man is foolish and naïve. There are many issues facing the Church’s desire to bring wholeness and peace to the brokenness of this world that should only be addressed by women. We are going to have to come to terms with that reality.
  • We are going to have to find a way to marry effective biblical teaching with the “social gospel.” The Church has fallen too far on both sides of this topic.
  • Authenticity is going to be the currency of the Church in our culture. If the Church is going to stay relevant at any level, we are going to have to become much more real and honest in all our relationships with each other and in our communities.
  • Teaching must become less about resolution and more about accepting the truth of both sides of a topic, even on things like global warming and gun control. Regardless of what side you land on, validating humans before topics will be critical for the Church moving forward. Being right is not the goal. Putting God on display well is.
  • Decentralization will be key to new structures. Gone are the days when the paid clergy was the answer man and the final word for any subject, and this isn’t a bad thing. Pastors should absolutely weigh in on issues and topics, but in reality we are only one small voice in a much larger conversation. We must accept this position with humility if we want to continue to be a voice at all.
  • Our truth will not be the most important thing we present. How we walk that truth out matters more. When we talk about doctrine in a way that forgets the critical marriage of loving God and loving people, we appear as hypocrites.
  • The Church is going to have to become experts at understanding how people are designed and creating new opportunities to empower and release those people to accomplish their passions within the context of their design. The good news is that this will lead to whole new worlds of opportunity to impact the redemption of all things. And by all things, I mean all things. There should be no place in our world where the Church isn’t leading the way in inviting people toward a more wholehearted life.

I believe with all my heart that the greatest days of the Church are ahead of us, not behind us, and that ought to affect how we move forward and make decisions.

I am sure there are many more points of discussion. What would you add to the list?