Our Quest for Faithful Presence
Dear St Luke’s,
This weekend we will conclude our three-part series, titled, “Conversations After Church.” Each session stands alone, so if you haven’t been able to participate until this Sunday, you will easily pick up on where we’ve been.
In part one, we briefly explored the story of how Christianity came to fuse religion with economic and political power. This collusion of power with religion came to dominate the Western world. Not surprisingly, the assumed dominance of the Western Christendom church did not go unchallenged. The rise of Islam, reason, science, the Protestant Reformation, and more began prying loose the Roman church’s grip on Western culture.
Then in part two we focused our attention to the church’s “big Why” for existing. Noting that when the Christendom church held almost universal power over Western culture, the church’s “why” for existence was itself. The church saw itself as an end in and of itself. Thus, its “why for exiting” was to protect and extend its power.
The Christendom church sought to defeat anyone or any group it saw as potential threats to its dominance… it labeled those who questioned its use of power as heretics, it went to war Islam which presented a competing universal narrative, and it sought to colonize the “new” world to extend it power and authority. The Christendom church’s reason for existence was more about ensuring its institutional power. The Christendom church equated the power of the institutional church with God’s reign.
So, as we explored the idea of life after Christendom, we also explore the how the church’s reason for existing is needing to change… we’ve seen some dangers of Christendom quest for power. The “Why” of church is now a real question. If you have ever asked or heard others ask, “Why do I go to church?” or “Why bother?” then you’ve already tapped into the impulse of life after Christendom. Lastly, I briefly offered my working understanding of the “what”, the “how”, and the “Big Why” of the church after Christendom, before moving into discussion together.
This Sunday – in the final session of this series – I will be sharing from my ongoing research and work Parish Collective. I plan to offer glimpses into the some of the ministry priorities/practices and metaphors of church we are seeing bubbling up.
And of course, we will spend time talking and imagining together. Should be fun.
Again, my intention here is not so much to provide some kind of “answer” to the question of what church might look like after Christendom, but to offer enough to get us imagining about our collective future. Similar to the last couple of weeks, I will open our community forum with a brief presentation; walking us through a few slides. Then we’ll engage in conversation together. See you there!
Also, there are two events in our region that I hope some folks from our community might participate in to further enlarge our imagination.
- March 17, (Friday): “Is Christianity Worth Saving?” A one-day interactive event with Brian McLaren, author of many books, including Do I Stay Christian? Learn more here.
- April 21-22, (Friday & Saturday): The Inhabit Conference. The focus of this learning and connecting event is building together for the future of the church in the neighborhood. A group of us from St Luke’s participated last year. Learn more here.
Always remember my friend, you are beloved, you are not alone, and you belong.