Saturday, November 17, 2007

Future Planning

The 21st Century Church

For most Americans, long range planning is deciding what to do next week. I just spoke with Gasch, a medical researcher with his own company. He noted that despite the fact that our medical system in America is about to collapse, most politicians refuse to mention the real systemic problems or plan for ways to make real change.

But we in the churches of America are not much different. We are so invested in the "instant coffee" mentality of what is going to happen this week in worship that we do not think about how to position the church for the next three decades. The Reveal research put out by Willow Creek shows what happens when a movement becomes obsessed with one of two aspects of a ministry, such as focusing only or mainly on Seekers, can end in frustration and failure.

It will be interesting to see what they decide to do to correct their old paradigm. When I read some of the criticisms and comments about the Willow Creek research I am struck by the smugness of many writers. Then they tell us what Willow Creek and other Seeker Churches "should have done in the first place." I usually find the advice shallow, reflexive, old hat and predictable. Few are insightful and based on an in depth discernment. They say things like-- Willow Creek should have:

Preached longer sermons
Had better theology
Not changed the music
Stayed smaller
Done more Bible based teaching
Been more Calvinistic
Been more Arminian
Been more Pentecostal
Not been so Pentecostal
Had evening services
Had Sunday school
Used my books

I am hoping that Seasoned Saints with long experience as Christians, educators, business leaders and thinkers will put their brains and hearts to work figuring out what God wants us all to do to prepare for 2040 and 2050.

Here is one suggestion from one. Take a look at the things that God has blessed. Do better in-depth research on what has worked with different groups and different places. Understand what the USA and the world will be like in three decades and plan to actually model Christ in that environment.

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