The Future Church

Lesson 1: Future Organization

Lesson 1: Future Organization

A Sunday School class in one of my sons-in-laws’ congregations was discussing the relationship of the Roman Catholics and Lutherans. A question arose why there was not more unity after 40 years of theological discussions that concluded agreement on just about all issues. These were topped off with a Joint Declaration on Justification, the very […]

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Lesson 2: Ecumenical Seminaries

Lesson 2: Ecumenical Seminaries

Several decades ago some writers observed progressives in all denominations are more comfortable with progressives in all other denominations than they are with conservatives in their own. Chances are this situation foreshadows what lies ahead for the American Church. It also captures the sense of the comment Derek made last week. Although our church bodies […]

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Lesson 3: Youth Groups

Lesson 3: Youth Groups

If recent refusals of denominations to finance their seminaries are self- defeating, the tendency of many to neglect youth work is just as silly. It is certainly a factor in the lack of young people at our worship services. I have some idea what is going on as my wife and I have hosted high […]

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Lesson 4: Staff 1

Lesson 4: Staff 1

I consider my two son-in-laws’ congregations to be cutting edge. A number of their practices indicate where the Church is going. Even a quick look at their staff lists gives you some clues. (Good Shepherd,Gaithersburg,MD. and Trinity, Mount Joy, PA ) The first thing you notice is their lengths. Many are paid part time clerical […]

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Lesson 5: Staff II

Lesson 5: Staff II

Let’s look further at the two creative congregations’ staff lists (Trinity, Mount Joy and Good Shepherd, Gaithersburg) for clues about the future church. The first thing you notice is their length. Even though they are large churches, they have more than the usual number of paid pastors and lay ministers. This reflects a trend toward […]

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Lesson 6: Women

Lesson 6: Women

Hardly a day goes by that I do not hear someone on a news program comment, “I grew up in the Church. The Church is very important to me, but…” It very obvious that the speaker no longer worships, yet misses something she associates with that life. The “but” indicates one of the reasons she […]

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Lesson 7: Church-State Relations

Lesson 7: Church-State Relations

Last week I suggested that, in a hundred years, pastors would not be regarded as agents of the state when officiating at weddings. I imagine the relationship between Church and State will be changed in many other ways by then as well. The Church probably will follow the lead of corporations that feel no need […]

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Lesson 8: Music

Lesson 8: Music

One of the big topics in church circles is whether we should use “contemporary” music and liturgies. My ministry was pretty old-fashioned in that area. However, my sons-in-law have both “contemporary” and traditional services, so I have had over a decade of observing both from the audience. That experience convinces me that we shall see […]

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Lesson 9: Community

Lesson 9: Community

When I ask people why they come to church, the answer I almost always receive is “community.” If I continue with, “What about right doctrine?” I usually get laughter. That does not mean that people do not appreciate good theology; just that their highest priority is to be around people who practice the Christian life […]

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Lesson 10: Bible

Lesson 10: Bible

Last week, I suggested the church of the future might well be a community of friends who gather face-to-face to share a lifestyle that suits following Jesus in our time. Every indication points to these groups engaging in more Bible study. However, I think the emphasis will be on honest sharing rather than dogmatic teaching. […]

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