I Dream of a Church (#12)

16 03 2011

In my “I Dream of a Church” series I having been writing about a collection of thoughts, ideas, and questions I’ve had from the last several years about what a church might look like (given an ideal situation). I don’t claim for any of these to be original, ground-breaking, or otherwise amazing. You can find other entries in this series by clicking here.

#12. I dream of a church where…

We are looking forward and backward.

There seem to be a lot of churches that are either good at one or the other. On the one hand, some churches are really good at looking forward – to the future, to where the church is going, etc. On the other hand, some churches are really good at looking backward – to the past, to where the church has been, etc. Both are good.

We need both. …but not separately.

Separately they can become dangerous. A sole focus on looking forward can cause a church to not have an identity. Such a church is constantly reinventing itself. It isn’t grounded in the past… it isn’t grounded in its history; in the things that has made it who it is. On the other hand, a sole focus on looking backward can cause a church to become stuck in its ways and to never reinvent itself. In such churches we hear things like, “We’ve always done it this way…” and “I remember the good ole days…” These sorts of places refuse to move forward (or at least do so begrudgingly).

There are also lots of churches that are great a doing both – looking forward while looking backward. In such places the past speaks to who the church was, where they’ve been etc… and it also informs – though it doesn’t define – who they will be. Such churches are able to look forward because they’ve already looked back (and continue to do so) and understand who they are and where they are going. In the words of one church: “To know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve been.”

 

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