What goes down can come back up. Sometimes renewal can only happen after death.
Caterpillars to butterflies, my transition from female to male. Churches can also die and resurrect.
But without a vision, people (and the Church) will die.
When I lived as a woman I was utterly miserable and begged for death. Often because I felt trapped in a body that didn’t match my brain and I was trying to fit into a life that was not mine…and then I was presented with the opportunity to transform my perspective. It seems to me that instead of closing churches, we should find out where the people are going instead of church, and why, and be bold enough to embrace change over death. RE-purpose ourselves.
If the vision isn’t so compelling that people are inspired to literally take it and run with it, how is it being delivered? Some mainline congregations are willingly killing themselves simply because they don’t want to embrace the fact that everything changes, and as a result, they have to change the church’s vision.
Dying on purpose is suicide; dying with purpose is the bridge to resurrection…or new life!
Death and resurrection.
When something dies with a purpose, it’s similar to the process of gender transition. You leave the former things, the old life, the old way of doing things, behind and you embrace a new life. You let go of what was and you open yourself up to the possibilities of what can be. You are starting over. Like Jesus said to Nicodemus, we “must be born again” in order to receive new life. When death happens, the Spirit can still bring forth renewed life from that dead situation. Like Ezekial and the Valley of Dry Bones that received new life, or Jacob who wrestles with the angel and receives a new name!
Mainline churches across the nation are losing members and closing their doors…and I don’t understand why. Call me naive but the Church is a community of people…and if people are no longer responding to something, why not change it?
If you had a pet that you fed the same food day after day and then one day it stopped eating, you’d find out why and you’d do something about it…you wouldn’t force-feed it the old food, you wouldn’t let it starve to death, and you wouldn’t put it down simply because it stopped eating the food you provided. You’d change the food.
The vision for life doesn’t stop because the people leave or because death happens; the vision for the Church and for all of life continues as long as there is someone actively communicating the vision.
Habakkuk 2:2 says to “write the vision and make it plain so that he runs that reads it.” In other words, the vision for life, for the Church, is supposed to be communicated so plainly that it literally inspires people to take the message and run with it!
Different is ok.
When a church loses sight of the vision and begins to die, it can die with the purpose of being reborn. The community around you is changing. You are uncomfortable. Things aren’t predictable anymore…sound familiar??
Just like my transition from female to male, many parts of my life felt like death. Everything was changing; I was incredibly uncomfortable; and nothing was predictable anymore. But I released the former vision I had for my life, and used the opportunity to gain a new vision…to see with a new set of eyes.
If someone wants to be alive, if a church wants to continue being and living in inspired community amidst a changing atmosphere, if a transgender person decides to transition toward wholeness, what’s needed is a new vision. You cannot re-create the old, you must open your eyes to what’s ahead not behind you!
The process of acquiring a new vision is what will bring life back into the body.
Who are you now? What are you now? And why are you now? The mission of the church is the same, but unless there’s a vision for it, it can’t be seen.
There are countless opportunities that exist all around us to BE the church in this ever-changing world, but we need to look around us to see those opportunities. Instead of mourning over what was, what is no longer, and how things used to be…remember why the Church exists in the first place: to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
In a consumer-driven world, we’ve been so consumed with making sure that we have the right pair of shoes we forgot that we are supposed to walk in them. And if people aren’t coming to the Church, then perhaps it’s time we laced up, go outside the building, and meet them where they are…
We cannot force what does not fit.