This morning I read an interesting article from YES magazine entitled Relearning the Skills of Community. As I read about their check in time, and provision of mutual support I thought – that sounds very much like forming Christian community to me. That’s what we do in our MSA team meetings. That’s what movements like the New Monasticism and Parish Collective are trying to accomplish.
I have the same response when I read books like Imagination First and Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks. And when I hear that young social entrepreneurs are living in community, practicing mindfulness and holding each other responsible I think – that sounds like spiritual disciplines without the spirit. But then I think is it really without the spirit?
Then I get together with the Food and Faith Initiative Steering Committee of Seattle Tilth’s Just Garden Project. As we talk about churches, synagogues, mosques and Hindu temples growing food and helping to sustain those at the margins with their produce, I think: This is God at work.
I believe that all of these movements are God at work. Young millennials are leaving the established churches in droves. As consultant Kn Moy shared with us recently:
The largest generation in U.S. history — the 80 million Millennials — has come to view religion (and the Bible) as judgmental, homophobic, hypocritical, and too political. Today, only ten percent of Millennials are “religiously affiliated.” Of that number, 59 percent will become “religiously unaffiliated” before they enter college. (That is, they will leave their churches.) And, unlike the Boomers, they will not re-affiliate when they marry and have children. So, basically, the Church, as we know it, will disappear in a couple of generations.
God has not abandoned the young millennials, or the millions from other generations who have left the church in the last few decades. God is at work spreading the salt of the kingdom throughout the world. I think that we need to be less about trying to get people into church and more about trying to help them recognize the presence of God in their everyday lives. Helping to recognize the ways that mindful meditation draws us close to the living God is an important part of what followers of Christ have to offer today. Helping seekers after community to draw close to the love of God which is at the centre of their interactions, even if they don’t see that, is hugely important. Helping those who love to get their hands dirty in a garden to interact with God and story of God that are revealed in their labours is a wonderful achievement.
Not all followers of Christ call themselves Christians and I suspect that even less will do so in the future. But the spirit of God is still very much at work transforming, renewing and making all things whole. My question is: will be recognize this and join in, or will we stand back because it does not fit our preconceptions of how God operates.
God rarely works according to our plans. The Jews looked for a powerful king who would triumphantly lead them into the glory days of a physical kingdom. They got a humble servant instead whose kingdom was ushered in through the renewal of suffering, death and resurrection.
I wonder how often we miss what God is doing because we assume we know what the next steps will be. Perhaps it is time for all of us to look around and ask:
God what are you doing and how can I be a part of it?