There is a deep spiritual hunger in America today, but it is not a hunger which has been satisfied by our nation’s churches. It is as if we are a restaurant that is unable to update its menu to satisfy today’s palate. It isn’t that we don’t have food, it is that we don’t have the food the public seems to want.
Yet the food we offer is the eternal message of hope proclaimed by a God who loves us and incarnated in the one called Jesus. If that is the good news, universal Truth, and we believe it is, why aren’t more drawn to our doors? Why would one on a spiritual search look in a bookstore, a yoga class, or on Oprah, yet not at the corner of where-your-church-is-located?
Thousands of churches across America are asking this question. In the UMC it’s called Rethink Church. Each group probably has its own version of this rethinking process, and at church for tomorrow. But if you’re going to do it, really do it. Don’t just change the packaging while on the inside keeping the same old version of church. No one’s looking for a new outfit. People are hungry to rethink how we approach God, how we experience God, even how we can know God. It doesn’t mean we abandon our foundations of scripture, interpreted by reason and experience. But it does mean that deep reflection is needed. What are we really about as Christians today? What is our bottom line, and it can’t be found in dogma. It has to be more alive, and more organic than our old traditions, creeds and current practices. We aren’t going to have that many chances at this. So don’t say you’re rethinking church, unless you really are. The greatest danger lies in rolling something out claiming it is a new version of church, when really we’ve just changed the packaging. Authenticity is the bottom line now; don’t waste it on an ad campaign.