Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Notes on the dying, declining Church

Prodigal Kiwis do a great job at keeping me up to date with eclectic bits of theological reading. I like Paul Fromont's honest approach to non-churchgoing Christianity. The most recent post on the Declining Church resonated with me as I begin to recover and reflect on the experience of the CEC Assembly in recent weeks and wonder about the reality of church life in much of Europe.
Much of the post is taken up with quotes from Diana Butler-Bass and a recent article she has written here.
It's interesting reading reflections like this while serving a very different context, even if some of the concerns across the English-speaking world do also resonate this different cultural context. What particularly struck me in what Butler-Bass writes is the assertion that church is seen as "hypocritical". Though I sense that in the French context it is much more the search for meaning and identity than the desire for transformaiton that motivates those in the church I'm involved with. In what she writes there is much food for thought and challange for all of us involved in ministry in mainstream churches and on its margins. I suppose I feel challenged to dare to continue being creative and bearing witness.

...What is causing the erosion of Christianity in North America? Most North Americans look at Christianity--especially as embodied in religious institutions--and find it wanting. I suspect that Christianity is in decline because it appears both hypocritical and boring. Although young North Americans express deep longings for a loving, just, and peaceful world, they don't find an equal passion for transforming society in meaningful ways in most congregations. And, sadly, many churches simply lack the imagination and passion that many spiritual people are searching for. Folks aren't looking for answers nearly as much as they are trying to clarify their questions and are hungry for accepting communities in which to ask them
...we are looking for congregations, communities and denominations that put the pieces together--passionate, imaginative, open, justice-seeking, inclusive, and loving gatherings of faith that actually live, as Jimmy Carter put it, "the teachings of Jesus Christ."


Mavis said...

Thanks for this link

Hansuli John Gerber said...

Great blog - and hot topic. I do think that the process of decline is further ahead in Europe. And yes, people to find the church hypocritical, with their number inside increasing.