10 Ways We Can Dream for the Church in the Twenty-First Century
by Mark Votava
So many people these days are disillusioned with the church. I am one of them. We need to find a way to dream for the church in the twenty-first century. Here are some ways we can dream in our time:
1. We can dream of a church where community is essential to its life. Community, the sharing of life together, is foundational to an authentic ecclesiology. Without community, the church cannot be an expression of love in the world together.
2. We can dream of a church that takes place seriously. A commitment to place is crucial for us to become connected to our culture and work for the common good. Without a focus on place, the church cannot be an expression of beauty, grace, compassion and hope in everyday life.
3. We can dream of a church that returns to the idea of parish. Returning to the parish, a particular geography of a neighborhood that we inhabit and care for, could revolutionize the church in the twenty-first century. We need to live within the context of the parish and become rooted there for decades.
4. We can dream of a church that has a vibrant expression of love together in everyday life Monday through Saturday. The church is called to be an expression of love. Monday through Saturday are the days we are most invisible to others in our society because we are not together.
5. We can dream of a church that lives in vulnerability and humility. I dream of a church that is known for its vulnerability and humility. Repentance and honesty about our colonialism, violence, arrogance in the past would be a good thing. This might just shock the world who has seen a lot of arrogance in the name of God.
6. We can dream of a church that lives in grace and compassion.
“The strongest argument in favor of grace is the alternative, a world of ungrace. The strongest argument for forgiveness is the alterative, a permanent state of unforgiveness,” writes Philip Yancey.
I dream of a church of grace, not ungrace.
7. We can dream of a church that listens. I dream of a church that stops preaching at people and starts listening in the context of everyday life. This would be so liberating and bring a lot of reconciliation.
8. We can dream of a church of hospitality. If we opened our homes, our tables, our lives to the marginalized, the hurting, the abused, the lonely; this would be beautiful. Can we dream of a day when this becomes a reality for the church and we practice hospitality in all we do?
9. We can dream of a church of solidarity. Finding our commonalities instead of our differences is so important in bringing some sense of solidarity to others. We have so much in common with those we think are different from us.
10. We can dream of a church of collaboration. Competition needs to stop and we need to dream of a day when we become about collaboration. Collaboration fosters love, compassion, solidarity, hospitality, reconciliation and friendship.
How can we dream for the church in the twenty-first century?