Dear Members and Friends,
We are facing a bit of a crisis in the UCC. It's a crumbling institution. Scores of members have left. Thousands of churches have closed. Denominational leaders are overworked and understaffed. Seminaries are laying off tenured professors and selling their buildings. The list goes on and on. "Mainline Churches" like the UCC have now become "Sidelined Churches." And the emergency is clear to many people. This time of crisis and transition needs to be addressed. If nothing changes, we will fail for sure. But if we act creatively and innovatively, we’ll succeed in some very exiting ways. So, it's time for an extreme makeover!
The task is upon us to join together in an effort to rebuild the Church into something more effective and efficient in our changing world. This seems like a big task. And it is. It’s going to take a group effort – and a whole lot of good conversation and hard work. But I am convinced that nothing short of the survival of the “Mainline Church” is at stake. A time of great transition is before us – and we need to find ways of addressing this transition in order to do effective ministry in the future.
The best way to address our crisis is to continue to reform the Church as each generation has done. Jesus started a reformation of Judaism. Martin Luther started a reformation of Catholicism. Now we need to start a reformation of the “Mainline Church.” We stand in a long line of faithful people who had to address changing times with deep reformation. Sound exciting? It is! The Church was never meant to be boring! The following five ideas are meant to encourage conversation about how we can engage in this exciting reformation.
(1) Sermons could be more conversational, giving space for everyone to contribute ideas.
(2) Encourage all people to be theologians (people who think about God), not just pastors and seminary professors.
(3) Enthusiastically engage in shared ministry, so we can all put our faith into action. We have the pleasure of being the Body of Christ in the world. This makes us part of a movement – part of something bigger than ourselves.
(4) Help the Church to be more fun through fellowship, humor, art, shared meals, special music, meaningful worship experiences, etc.
(5) Have an internet ministry. Not just a website, but an active online presence that inspires interaction and connection.
The list could go on and on. And I hope many different people add many other ideas. We need an effective list. The times are rapidly changing. So, we need to work together in order to realistically and faithfully face the revolutionary shifts that are taking place in our world, and explore ways to do effective ministry in the midst of that transformation. The Church needs an extreme makeover. So let the creative planning and relevant reforming begin!