by Brad Duncan
How can the church respond to the challenges facing it? I am proposing not only a change of heart, but a change of many other things too, as a way of directly responding to the challenges we are facing.
These posts are excerpts from a full-length article and presentation. For more information or the full documents, please email me at GraceEmerges@gmail.com
Our ResponseCan we create respond to these challenges with a will to change the church? Can we create something new, a grassroots movement that will get people involved in the kingdom of God? Something new, but something that doesn’t have to compete with the current system?
What I am proposing with the )open( church is a blueprint for a grassroots movement that can help the church grow, reach outsiders, and transform the heart of the church. What I am proposing is a new model for creating intentional community that people inside and outside of today's churches can join.
Let me describe how the church can respond to the challenges it is facing by embracing this new model.
- What I am referring to as a model is a way of thinking, a concept of what we want the church to represent.
- Secondly, in order to put that model into action we need a new mode of operating. We have to do some things differently in order to act according to the new model.
- The new model will also lead to a new message, one which will be more relevant and appealing to the world, meeting the world’s skepticism and hesitation with the good news of grace and love.
- Finally, with the new model we must embrace a new mission. This mission must put into action the message of love. We must act with love and demonstrate God’s grace, to one another, and to everyone.
With these changes the church will LEAD the world in how to treat people and how to bring positive transformative change to the world. It will be a contagious transformation!
We change ourselves first, so we can change things for others.
As Paul says in Ephesians 5, we need to watch what God does as he pours out his extravagant love for all people, and we just need to do the same!
A New ModelThe new model is simply to create a church that is more about people. We follow the lead of Jesus to put our desire to love and serve God into action to love people. We expand our notion of worship and pleasing God to the notion that God wants to build an amazing kingdom where his children worship him in spirit and in truth, by joining each other in community. This new model will transform our hearts and open our eyes to the people around us. We will want to be in closer community.
A New ModeWe put this into motion by de-emphasizing the weekly worship service, in order to apply more time and resources toward intentionally building community. We still enjoy worship, music and gatherings, but we recognize that it is just the starting point of our calling. We get our own hearts in order, and then we look around and see how we can participate in the lives of others. This will require planning, creativity, and a new way of generating the budget, to name a few of the aspects of changing our mode of operating. However, if people want the church to change, they can make it happen. A grassroots movement that calls for more community will lead to positive changes.
A New Message
As the church, we need to start by listening to each other, and accepting each other wherever we may be in our journey. This includes both embracing the long-time church-goers and outsiders. With an attitude of Unconditional Welcome, we embrace all people. We listen. We share.
The only rule is grace – which translates into good listening, acceptance of each other, and tolerance for one another.
As we listen actively to one another, we need to break the silence and start discussing how the church will tackle its challenges. How will it respond to social change, and to social needs? What does it mean to love people in today’s generation? When will we be ready to speak up against injustice, and speak up for the little guy? How will our ideals and passions translate into a voice for positive change?
A New MissionFinally, we need to act. The needed actions will be clear and obvious. Like the Good Samaritan, when we encounter the one needing our help, we simply help him. We open our eyes, our hearts and our arms to others, and God will reveal to us who is in reach of our love and assistance. The only limitation is our willingness and availability. If we fix that, we will be ready to embrace a new mission that brings positive change.
This is the kingdom of God, …, acted out!