|Dr. M.J. Hudson|
A church of Jesus Christ is a future-seeking church. It is a church that knows and appreciates it historic roots but recognizes what is in the past... is past. As the saying goes, the past really is only a prologue of the future.Any one person, at any one time, is to serve, as the active participant in a vast, generational torch passing process. As they pass the flame of faith the light should be burning bright and steady. Some churches – like the virgins discussed by Jesus – may have fallen asleep on the job. Their lamps are burning so low and so weak as to appear unlit.The modern American Church, however, has often fallen into several behaviors that are counter-productive to the true mission of the Church.
The “Present-Tense Congregation” model. They live for themselves focusing only on the present. The pews are too hard, the music too loud, the pastor does not visit enough, and the list goes one. This focus on self rather than on mission and outreach creates a tension in the church. The tension may be between those who know the mission of the church is not self-focused but ministry focused and those who want a nice comfortable chaplaincy church. It is the epitome of the modern consumer mentality that wants what they want and when they want it. Church, for these so-called Christian people, should be there when they have a need. As a result, volunteerism disappears, spiritual vitality decays, love is replaced by ego, and the church enters an ice age devoid of life or growth.
The “Past Perfect” model. Even though a past pastor might have been totally incompetent or the church people were so spiteful the church split – the past is so much better than the present. If only we could return to those halcyon days, life would be good. Don’t misunderstand me; history and an awareness of the past are crucial to successful church development to avoid making the same mistakes all over again! Often this model sees things in vague and hazzy terms lacking clarity or connection of cause and effect.It is through an awareness of the rich heritage of the saints of the past that we can appreciate our faith today. The church, like some like prehistoric creature in a slab of amber, does not remain static. The church is alive. It is organic. It changes and adapts to meet the needs and problems of every generation with the unchanging love of God.
The “Transient Verb” model. The people who attempt to manipulate a congregation by threatening to leave. They take offense, get their feelings hurt, are unappreciated and move off to the next church down the road with an “I’ll show them” attitude. It is not all-bad though. Some churches would have no membership growth at all if it were not for these folks. The truth is that most of these “here today – gone tomorrow” people are pure trouble mongers. Look around your community at the many tiny churches struggling to stay afloat and you often see the result of these people who bring division and leave discord.
The “Future-Seeking Congregation” is a church that has restored their relationship with Jesus Christ. They recognize their mandate is “Go – into all the world!” Church is then a refreshing station in their own individual ministry modeling the love of God in their slice of the world. Church is the place of encouragement and celebration. Church is the place to learn, to be equipped, and then back out into the daily grind as witnesses of the love and joy found in a relationship with God.
The “future-seeking congregation” is a church that does not rest on what they used to do but dreams about what they are getting ready to do in the future.The “future seeking congregation” focuses on serving others and making a difference in the world. The willingness to take risks, engage in vision, take action, and remain spiritually vital is the foundation of the “Future-Seeking Congregation.”