Live Like You Give A Damn,
Tom Sine, Cascade Books, 2016, page 2-3
In a book written a couple of years ago now, Tom Sine - a writer, educator and advocate for change - makes the case that the world badly needs to change. That much might seem obvious, but he argues that the church needs to change in order to be part of that change-making. Sine takes the popular aphorism "Does the church have a future?" and turns it round to ask, perhaps rather more sharply, "Does the future have a church?"
I have some very good news - and some really bad news. The good news first. God seems to be at work not only through people of faith but also through people of compassion who are bringing welcome change to our world in what some are calling an "innovation revolution." In the last ten years there has been a veritable explosion of new forms of social innovations all over the planet.
Much of this change, he reports, is being led by young innovators fron Generation Y and Z - essentially, those born after 1981; the under-forties. Commenting that most of these young innovators are outside the church, he suggests that the Spirit of G-d may well be using these folk to challenge the people inside the church to stop sitting on their thumbs and get involved in the larger purposes of the kingdom.
I remember, in the early 1980s, showing leaders of a number of mainline denominations that not only were their deonominations beginning to gray but their attendance was beginningto decline significantly as well. Now, however, leaders of mainline denominations are not only much more aware of often sharp decline lines but are scrambling to find ways to reverse the decline. These days I find it is often the leaders of evagelical denominations who are struggling with denial about the potential long-term impact of declining attendance and aging populations in manyof their congregations as well.
The book is actually full of hopeful good news, of reports of change and culture shifts that are empowering the church to be G-d's people for this generation on the ground. We may revisit it from time to time in the coming months.