This month has been full of a wide variety of activities for me. Some were continuations of things we had been planning for a while. For example, we successfully transitioned our Sandwich Sunday feeding program to Coffee Oasis in Poulsbo. It has been well received and is helping meet a need for homeless youth in our area. Another thing that has started in earnest is my working with students at North Kitsap High School. We have finally finished planning it, and I have been working with small groups of students on their reading skills.
It has also been a month of a wide variety of meetings. This month, I met with three mayors (present and past), the district superintendent of schools, as well as dozens of other meetings that sound less impressive but were just as informative.
This is one of the things about the Church as it will be in the future: if it is to survive, we must change from facing inward to facing outward. While taking care of our own is by no means a bad thing, we cannot allow our church to become insular. Us Christians are called to deeply engage with the entire world. We are not so much the light on the hill, bringing everyone toward us with our attractive glow. Rather, we as Christians go out into the world to find where God is at work, so that we can join in building God’s kingdom. After all, Jesus didn’t cloister himself up with his disciples, making a perfect little community. Rather, he worked in the rough and tumble of the real world. The future of the Church is not about belief; it’s about participation.
Facing outward is a threatening posture, when we think about it. To be blunt, research shows us that those not already in Church aren’t interested in what we’re peddling. And the slice of society that is interested is declining more and more rapidly. This is a threatening realization, because it means that we need to change if we were to survive. Our response to this can’t be condemnation of “the world” for rejecting us. Rather, we need to learn from them. They can teach us a lot:
- What is broken in the way that we do church?
- Why are we drawn to this Church while many are not?
- What are ways to faithful that we have never thought to consider before?
When we are faced inward, we can hardly learn from these teachers. By facing outward, we can truly love our communities. That’s what I’m trying to do by deeply embedding myself in our communities. By doing so, we can together invent what the future of the Church looks like.