Guest Post: The Future of Church

I’m extremely proud and grateful to host a guest post from my wonderful, brilliant husband, Matt Cavanaugh.  In addition to the privilege of being married to me, Matt is a musical composer, avid hiker, and lover of all things REI.  He holds a masters in Worship, Theology, and Art from Fuller Seminary as well as undergraduate degrees in psychology, theology, and church and ministry leadership from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL. Find more from Matt at his website.

God created us each with purpose in mind. It could be purpose as in singular or purposes as in plural. But we’ve been created with — what I believe scripture would support — a ton of intention. (Is there a person who has read Jeremiah out there who can give me an “Amen”?) Not only do we have a purposeful existence, but we also have a purposeful time and location.

I believe that we are living at a very important point in Church history. We’re coming out of the Seeker/Modernist movement and a shorter but important Emergent/Postmodern movement… and now we’re in what I’d consider an idling spot. If we are talking about cars, we have our car still on but at a red light, awaiting a green to move forward and go to the next place.

And so I ask… what is this next spot? This next movement/evolution/step?

Is it the pendulum swinging back towards the more conservative movement (ala Neo-Reformists like Piper, Driscoll, etc…)?

Or is it more progressive?

Or, to think more multidimensionally, is it not a question of more liberal/more conservative or progressive/regressive but instead an entire paradigm shift?

God created us at turning point, and I believe that each of us has a role that requires our integrity and intention. God’s purposes are great for Creation; I believe that (and hope you do too!), and we have been invited to play a part in this wonderful drama of God’s world.

What is your role? I’m not necessarily talking Strengthfinders 2.0 or Myers-Briggs but instead your ROLE. How is/will God use you to further the growth and development of the Kingdom? How will your existence be important to the further unveiling of God’s heart and Plan? (This is not rhetorical… I really would love to hear your answers!)

What might be God moving us towards next?

I have a feeling that the next movement will have to do less with theology and more with physical and emotional socialization. Our world is becoming more isolated physically but more social in a digital sense. I anticipate seeing this trend further, where church (and The Church) is becoming more about what is convenient for our busy schedules. I anticipate people’s spending less time in chapels and more at home with virtual socialization. Maybe someone will figure out a way to create increased digital social community, more developed and fulfilling than what we have already.

How would this more digital and physically isolated experience of the community of God affect our body theology?

Regardless of what the future holds, know this: You have purpose. I have purpose. God is purposeful. Let’s be intentional as we play our part in the future of Church.

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About Laura K. Cavanaugh

I'm a writer, spiritual director, and advocate of holistic body theology.

Posted on September 10, 2012, in Body of CHRIST, Community, Guest post, Physicality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Several years ago, I went to hear a lecture on the emergent church movement in the UK and the US. In the course of the lecture, one of the presenters discussed experiences in several communities that identify as emergent. The lecture was not arguing for or against, but rather, presented and discussed positives and negatives. One of the examples sticks in my mind.

    It was an open and largely empty room with a large bank of televisions on one wall. On the televisions was flashed the scripture of the day for reflection, “…and the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). The presenter noted the irony of this with the fact that “there was no flesh to be seen.” Some accuse me of being “old fashioned”, but this trend concerns me.

    The passing of the peace is an integral part of the worship service, not just to say “hi” but to have an interaction with other members of the particular part of the body of Christ. We do not worship alone, but we worship in community with other Christians. There is something special about shaking someone’s hand or greeting with an embrace. Community is not just in our minds, community is in the flesh. The telephone and the internet are wonderful tools that can help us to be in contact and communication with others; however, there is something unique to the human experience about physically being with someone — in the flesh.

    It almost feels as if this is a type of gnosticism, the idea that everything happens in our minds, that community and socialization happen in our minds, rather than also with our bodies. I, of course, say this as a blogger, as someone who finds some connection via the internet and technology. However, I firmly believe that this form of connection cannot replace actual, physical, in-the-same-place-at-the-same-time form of connection. Thanks for your reflections!

    • Hey Matt!
      Thanks for your response. I agree with everything you’ve stated. I think your connection to gnosticism is especially intriguing and I think there is something to do. I also think that younger generations are increasingly becoming digitally dependent on greater levels and these generations will describe interaction, prayer, love, and maybe even physical connection differently. I anticipate these redefintions leading to different methodologies in how church is carried out, like the example you gave. In other words, I totally agree – the handshake, hug, in person eye contact – are absolutely imperative to my church experience but is that because of the generation I’ve been raised in or because of my inherent humanity? Or maybe both (I find that these answers are usually a combination of both possibilities). Either way, exciting times ahead in both great and trialsome ways. Thanks for your thoughts!

  1. Pingback: The Future of Body Theology | Holistic Body Theology

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