In other words...we are all ministers.
We have an opportunity before us. An opportunity for growth. An opportunity to share our faith. An opportunity to be the church in ways that we haven't been before.
But in order to do that we must give away our control. Control we probably never really had to begin with. Control that we kept within the confines of our buildings and our schedules. It's time to give control of ministry and faith development back to families.
And we've never been better equipped to do so.
The Means of Growth
Martin Luther wasn't the first person to call for reform within the church. Before the Reformation, Petr Chelčický, Johannes Hus, John Wycliffe and others all started movements of reform in their own circles. So what made Martin Luther's movement stick and spread? What made his calls for reformation sustainable longer than the others?
As you may have heard before, timing is everything. Martin Luther's holy unrest began to stir in his soul during the time the printing press was beginning to be used more frequently as a means to communicate to larger numbers faster. Pro-Luther advocates printed propaganda to influence others and Luther printed a gift to the people: the Bible in their own language. And with that gift and the freedom from the religious structures of the day, the priesthood of all believers was born.
The Intersection of Faith, Technology, and Timing
We are at another crossroads. The COVID 19 shelter-in-place forced churches to increase their online presence for both the spiritual and physical health of their congregations. For some the technology wasn't new. They had been doing online worship in addition to in person worship. Others needed to increase their presence quickly.
It seems that many have made the transition and are connecting to their members from a distance in authentic ways that honor God. But the longer this goes on, one more pivot needs to happen. We can provide online worship resources. We can provide Christian education videos, reading, and activities online. But information and resources don't make disciples. Disciples make disciples.
We've discovered (remembered?) that we don't need a building on Sunday morning to have worship. And we've created the habit for families to worship at home. Can we now create the practices for kids, family, and neighbors to be discipled at home?
Reclaiming Old Habits
Worship doesn't happen because the church records it or streams it. Worship happens when people gather to praise God. While that may be happening on the stream, it is also happening in new ways in our homes. It's time to equip parents with the confidence they need to disciple their children, to share their stories of faith with their neighbors, and to discover ways to get into Holy Mischief (the mysterious disruption of God's love in action).
Parents can do more than play a video or do a craft with their child. They can make faith come alive in ways that church staff can't. They can personalize faith, model faith, and share faith that is specific to how their child learns and thrives.
It's time to empower believers of all ages and stages of life to find where God is working around them and be the hands and feet of Jesus where they are. Just as the printing press gave the Bible back to the people, our current situation has the opportunity to give the ministry back to the people.
I don't know exactly what that will look like but I know we need to start somewhere. These seven thesis are a place to start.
Seven Thesis in Reclaiming the Priesthood (because 99 is too many)
- Re-vision our time: Name that we have been slaves to our schedules and re-imagine the way that we spend our time to align with the things we say we value.
- Refine relationships: Recognize that we don't know our neighbors and family members as well as we should and build our relationships to be healthy and life affirming.
- Be healed: Find ways to nurture our holistic health by disciplines that feed our body, mind, and spirit. We need to address our mental health. Our high anxiety and depression rates. The root of the word "salvation" is a form of the word healing. A cure. A rescue.We need to remember that and seek healing for our whole self.
- Don't just study Christianity. Practice Christianity.
- Love. Abundantly. Find ways to love others that is radical, disruptive, and meaningful.
- Connect with God in deep and profound ways through ancient ways of prayer that have stood the test of time.
- Re-imagine community: A community of believers that is about people with a purpose and not about a building and programs.
I see my role as pastor transitioning into someone who helps people fight through the noise of the information, teaches spiritual disciplines so that faith is sustainable, and commissions people to be the ministers I know they can be. A lot is still uncertain but I'm excited for the possibilities.
I'm not saying that we won't ever be back in our building but we have an opportunity for a great anointing of the Holy Spirit in families everywhere. And I. Can't. Wait.
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. - Want to get into Holy Mischief? Click on the #HolyMischief page.