Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meaning-Making and the Future of the Church

Doug Pagitt has recently commented on how to be the modern Church. His ideas are nothing new, but they are a good reminder. Check it out:

People aren't busier than they were in the 1930's. This is a common myth. There's just more competition for their time. The reality is that what churches are doing is less interesting than other things. So we need to ask: How can the church become a meaning-making system, not just a volunteer-organizing system? People don't care about the old categories of paying dues and volunteering, or the distinction between clergy and laity. What people want is to live their life in a way that makes meaning in the world. Things within a church are only meaningful to the church itself. The church is functioning as a solution to a past period and answering none of the problems for our current time. In a traditional church system, all of the important stuff is reserved for clergy. All people should be doing it! The entire community should have to do what the pastor is doing. Most pastors stay pastors because they get to do the good stuff.

There is another systemic problem in mainline churches—infatuation with crisis management. There is so much time is spent putting in place rules and responses to crises that people get addicted to crises, and you are constantly managing people. From a family systems perspective, every Sunday many churches are reinforcing a bad system on one another. At Solomon's Porch, we decided that fighting and being angry is not something we're going to do anymore and that people were not going to be rewarded in that system.

Ultimately, people aren't afraid of change. They are afraid of loss. The church must deal with things as a loss issue rather than a change issue.
For some of our thoughts on the future of the Church, check out Extreme Makeover UCC Edition and the Organic Church Manifesto.

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