It has been written about exhaustively. The Church in America is dying. Responding to this reality have been numerous voices speculating about the causes of this slow death, and strategies that can be employed to reverse this trend and resuscitate this valuable institution. However, I learned from Dr. John Perkins a long time ago that “the solutions are already present within the community.” We just need to listen.
And the more we listen we discover that there is a generation within the Church that is emerging. It is a generation that bridges generations. It is young and old, Korean and Latino, suburban and urban. And this generation will tell you that the conversation really isn’t about solutions. The Church isn’t something that we fix. The Church is alive. She breathes. She moves. She changes her shape over time. And this generation is a reflection of her current shape. It is not as simple as a new movement within the Church that is reacting to the prior movement. It is not that dualistic. It is much more woven together than that.
Then Jesus said to the followers, “So every teacher of the law who has learned about God’s kingdom has some new things to teach. He is like the owner of a house. He has new things and old things saved in that house. And he brings out the new with the old.” Matthew 13:52
Maybe what the Spirit is doing in this generation can’t simply be reduced to the “next thing” or a reaction to the prior movement. Maybe something entirely different is happening! Maybe we have misunderstood all of these “movements” to begin with. Maybe what has been happening in the Church is less like the assembly of a new piece of office furniture that came in a box, and more like what happens in living organisms. The organism is maturing, not just moving onto assembly instruction #16.
Maybe the uniquenesses of this generation will so clearly violate the rules of modernity that we will have to become comfortable with a Church that is comfortable looking backward and forward at the same time. This is what I am calling the “Contemporancient Church.”
The Contemporancient Church is characterized by six postures of this generation, each of which I will expound upon in future posts:
- Tension-Embracing (Read Blog Post on This Topic)
Each of these postures reflects the maturity of the Church into a non-dualistic organism, where we once began before there was an Eastern Church and a Western Church – when there was one Church. And now, after nearly 1,000 years and 41,000 divisions this generation might be returning us to a practical ecclesiology that is both pulling us forward while reaching backward. Some say this is altruistic and impractical, while others say it is incomprehensible. I say it is inevitable; for the Church was created to live.