Notes on Future of the Church

Please allow me to preface this with a “no-damage-intended” introduction. I read this article a year ago and had some thoughts, but after CMN (The Church Multiplication Network) retweeted the article this month I thought it would be good to write out some thoughts from the other side of the tracks. Rob Ketterling is the lead visionary pastor for River Valley Church. River Valley is a mega church with multiple campus throughout the Twin Cities. I attended River Valley Woodbury from June through August of 2015 after the church we had been attending merged with River Valley.  We moved to Minneapolis to plant Corner Church Camden in August, and are currently living in the neighborhood we planted. Rob’s vision of the church is mega, Justin’s vision of the church is mini. Both visions are fueled by Jesus. I hope that we both are preparing Jesus’ bride, and ourselves, regarding the Capital C-Church with obedience to Jesus as our first call.

Also – this comes from an interview. I would love to dialogue with Rob about this, so if you ever have the time please send me a text (7154170609): I’ll buy our coffee.

Please note this article was written in October of 2016 and can be read here:

The Future of the Church according to Rob:

  1. The growing rift between the three major religions of America, Christians, Muslims and the non-religious will become more apparent.
  2. Being generous is defined by giving to the mission of the church. Ketterling says, “They’ve been lulled into sleep into thinking that if they buy a pair of shoes, they donated substantially because a poor person got another pair of shoes.” The church’s “tithe” is an increasingly important part of the future of the church for Ketterling.
  3. The church goes in Jesus’ name alone. On mission to reach the lost for Jesus, by Jesus, in Jesus.
  4. A bridge needs to be built between generations for wisdom to be passed along. Less info (google) more informed (lifestyle). “[Young people] can Google everything, but they can’t apply anything.” (<- okay, my feelings are a little hurt by that 😉 )
  5. The future of the Pentecostalism/Charismatic tradition will be marked by the Holy Spirit more than technology.

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The Future of the Church according to Justin:

  1. I see the rift between religions that Rob alludes to, but I see it as an opportunity for the local church to collaborate with neighbors to create a more beautiful, safer world. I stand on the side of my non-religious and Muslim neighbors and ask, “How can we work together to make our community a better space to live?” The heart of the neighborhood I live in sees value in every organization and individual contributing to a greater good. The church has an enormous opportunity for partnership with neighborhood associations and businesses to make this happen.
  2. I believe the millennial generation could be the most generous one to date if the narrative is written correctly. The old guard is going away and the new definition of generosity isn’t dropping coin in the coffer at the end of service as if we have paid our “member’s fee.” The new age of generosity is story. It’s connecting individuals to each other through buying one-for-one clothing, by eating more ethically, by living in community houses to save money to give to the poor. Giving to the church can be part of it, but that’s a VERY limited definition of generosity. The millennial generation doesn’t trust authority. We see pastor’s with big houses or nice cars and don’t trust them. We see big churches, with LED screen’s bigger than a theater, and paying for the congregations parking downtown (which is a TON OF CASH MONTHLY!) and we wonder if the money couldn’t be spent better on REAL needs. In my heart I just ask, “Are we building Jesus’ church or a monument to ourselves?”
  3. I believe the church does go in Jesus’ name. But I don’t believe in evangelism that’s trying to convince people they’re going to hell, or their moral worldview is wrong, or their ethics are bent. Going in Jesus’ name means an invitation to journey life together. If people reject Jesus they reject Jesus. Does that mean I abandon my neighbors who aren’t interested in my faith? No. It means that we journey together. We bring meals for the sick, we have their kid’s over so they can go on a date night, we shovel their drive way. All these things in Jesus’ name, but no agenda. Just the good news that because Jesus loves and cares and gives, so will we.
  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! to bridging generations. Not for wisdom, for community. I have had two wonderful encounters with the elderly recently. Harvey and Jerry, you make me want to grow old and be like you! Running into these older men, even for a brief moment planted greater seeds of kindness and patience inside me. Harvey and Jerry were so genuinely nice. They smiled, they looked at my eyes, they shook my hand. In all of this I felt loved. The bridge between generations is about belonging and human connection – not just the transfer of ability to live smarter (though yes, we millennial’s are dumb and I’m sorry for all the online drama we (I) create).
  5. The divide between technology and God is substantial – but I also see technology as one of God’s gifts and one of the ways God will use us to be a light to the world. Rather than seeing technology as Spirit quenching problem, technology has a power that I believe God wants us to use. Tech will never eliminate the power of prayer or meditation or deep biblical study or real face to face human connection to community. My marriage is living proof of the power of God’s Spirit working today. But maybe, just maybe, God is using technology through the Holy Spirit to animate us to greater faith.

My vision of the church of tomorrow

The vision of the church of tomorrow looks like churches on every block. Where there is a block leader there is a block shepherd. Where every cubical and every apartment floor and every block has a committed Christian engaging their neighbor. The future of the church looks a little different for me. Here are some small notes about it, and how I think it could be lived out practically.

That’s my house. This is my block. These are my people.

The Block Church

The block church is one home or family or individual who is…

  1. Committed to know the name, story, dream and need of every person on their block, or in their cubicle, or on their apartment floor.
  2. Willing to pray for their people by name regularly
  3. Faithful to server their people’s needs as they are revealed
  4. Eating meals with their people
  5. Inviting their people to participate in healing the world (cleaning up street trash, adopting a class for school supplies, collect food for local food shelf)
  6. Having regular parties together (cook outs, Christmas celebration, block parties, Super Bowl, baby shower, wedding shower, etc…)
  7. Introducing people to the Good News and beginning discipleship relationships when the “follow Jesus” moment happens

In my vision of the 21st century church we don’t need

  1. Buildings (your home is your church)
  2. Paid Staff (everyone is a pastor to each other)
  3. Strategy (Loving people is the strategy – very easy – don’t mess this very simple thing up with crappy theology and Pauline ethics)

In my vision of the 21st century church we do need

  1. Long term commitment to your people
  2. Willingness to multiply the movement, show others how you do it and help them become their best version of a block/apartment/cubicle shepherd
  3. God (any real Jesus movement requires the supernatural to bring life and rhythm and momentum to the church)

Who is right?

That’s a dumb question. Only Jesus is right. Rob and I are both right when we’re in alignment with what Jesus’ says to us in our communities.

What has Jesus called you to do or be or start for the local church?

Right now Jesus is calling me to coffee – then to heal the world. But first, coffee.

*(end note – if you are a neighbor – I’m not out to convert you, I’m here to love you. No strings attached.)*

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