There’s the view from “inside,” up close, and the one from “outside,” more distant.
We see different things from those different viewpoints. Because of that, we’ll identify different problems, and come up with different diagnoses, and prescriptions.
There’s a lot of talk these days about “the decline of religion.”
But I wonder whether what’s declining is not “religion,” but rather participation in the day-to-day keeping things running of a particular practice of “religion.” A weekly worship service, with its established order, that takes place in a sanctuary outfitted with a pulpit and table and font and piano and organ and sound system, led by a “paid Christian” [thanks, former wonderful pastor, for that perfect figure of speech].
I really wonder how that particular practice feels to some people from the inside.
I really wonder how people answer the question “what’s this for?” for themselves, from the inside.
I really wonder whether that answer sounds anything like inviting, anything like “omg [literally], this is what I’ve been waiting for!” From the “outside.”
Image: “Sumac – Fall,” Paul VanDerWerf from Brunswick, Maine, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
2 responses to “Double Vision”
You are raising some very important questions here. Thank you for that. I am about to propose to my fellow clergy in our local conference that we do an experiment of combining our congregations once a month, taking turns hosting in our different sanctuaries. It’s pretty clear that between us we could muster a single good-sized congregation. That we are going to need to merge congregations is becoming undebatable. Seven churches each getting 20-30 a week in worship with maybe another 20 online is unsustainable. Maybe in reassembling our assemblies we can consider your questions and begin to find some meaningful answers.
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That sounds like an interesting experiment!
I know lots of people are thinking about these things, and that everyone is struggling to see the answers. Clearly, the world continues to need the message of the gospel. Equally clearly, it seems, changes must be on the horizon for the church “as we know it” in North America. Just difficult to see what they will be.
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