So, I’m in the midst of rethinking the “Imago Dei Initiative.” Part of our DNA is an understanding that rethinking has to occur regularly and constantly. As folks engaging with emerging generations and culture, what else can we do?
Up-front-and-center is the need to refocus ministry development in the midst of parish life. After nearly 20-years of observing “Emergent” or “Fresh Expressions” models of being “the church” – at least that part that eschews larger gatherings of people for the “intimate-alternative” – I find that those models tend to be transient and temporary. As valuable as they may be for the people in them, such small groups over time are not particularly sustainable and certainly do not do things like pay diocesan assessments. I fully support those trying alternative things – that’s what we are doing, frankly. It just depends on how “alternative” is conceptualized and experienced. 😉
There are reasons why aspects of the Christian Faith and Tradition have endured for nearly 2,000 years, even as our understanding and experience of society, humanity, and technology have changed. The institutional Church must realize that those experimental forms of “church”, as valuable as they may be, are not the future. The fringe never is. The fringe, however, will inevitably change us! Yet, that which has endured will continue to endure no matter how radically-whatever we try to be, and the rest will fall away.
The current Church bureaucracy of technocrats still function under a perceptional framework based in Modernism and Christendom – no matter how much they try, otherwise. It is obvious to anyone who was not formed to perceive in such ways. So, the real re-invigoration of the institutional Church will rest with those younger – so shall it be as it always has been. The holders of elder-wisdom who get-it will be there to guild and support. Those who don’t – well, they will hinder until they can hinder no more. Thankfully, the emerging generations at present have a keener understanding of and value for that which endures.
So then, how do we perpetually put aside our own “stuff” for the sake of the Church-becoming… for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in present contexts… for the sake of those who do not yet have a knowledge of God?