When we consider the future of the church from God’s perspective, we are considering the subject from the perspective of vocation. Given the conditions of the church, the nature of humanity in general, and the active presence of the Spirit in the world, what is the nature of God’s call for the church and those within it. Since God calls a people as well as individuals, let us begin by thinking of the church as a corporate body.
From a biblical perspective, God’s call in the formation of Israel or the church was never based on the capacity of a group of humans to achieve perfection. From the beginning those involved demonstrated both ethical lapses and theological misunderstanding. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:7 ff “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to god and does not come from us.” This same Paul continued to strive for both ethical and theological maturity and was not adverse to strategies by which the church grew, but the key was that this was God’s doing, not a clever human plan.
So begin with your church. What does it mean that your church, with all its strengths and weaknesses, is called by God? Whether it is wildly successful in attracting new members or barely surviving with a declining membership, what is God’s call for them? Whether it is boldly courageous in standing for justice and mercy or timidly anxious that it might offend people, if God is starting where they are, what is God’s call at this moment in their lives?
As a way to deepen your reflection, try writing ten statements about the future of your church from God’s perspective. How is God’s power made perfect in weakness and how does grace shine through in the ordinary humanity of your church? What is God’s calling for your church?