Someone asked me the other day what kind of people I was looking to recruit to make up the core team of Union Church. I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t have a specific demographic or population segment in mind. I said something generic, like “we’ll take anybody…” (which isn’t untrue, I guess). Several days later, that question has festered and I’ve thought more about it than I care to admit.
If I had to answer that question over again, this is what I’d say: I want people who are discontent with the Church being the chaplain for the status quo.
Now, what I am NOT saying is that I’m looking for anyone in the Auburn/Opelika area who has beef with an existing church. As a pastor - but mostly as the son of a pastor – I have zero interest in disgruntled church folk who complain, bounce, repeat. Those guys are the worst. I’m also NOT suggesting that any church planted prior to 2018 is part of the problem.
But the reality of our situation is pretty bleak. There are zero studies that suggest Christianity in America is trending anywhere but down. The status quo is unacceptable – in terms of both quantity and quality. We are planting 4000 new churches every year but we’re also shutting down 3700 right behind them. So, either we have a volume problem, a method problem, or both.
The established church as she is currently constructed isn’t enough – even if she was theologically orthodox, socially engaged and fabulously resourced (spoiler alert: she’s not). There are simply not enough healthy churches to keep pace with the population growth, much less a rapidly changing spiritual landscape.
One of my favorite missiologists is fond of saying that the church is perfectly organized to achieve exactly what she is currently achieving. Meaning, if you’re cool with the mass exodus of college students from the faith, rampant misogyny and sexual misconduct of male leadership, doctrinal infidelity and widespread institutional racism, then yeah, we’re doing fine. But if you think the Church can be more than that we need to A. repent (looking at us Southern Baptists), B. plant new churches, and C. plant new kinds of churches.
It’s time for new mindsets, new wineskins that are still pliable and haven’t assumed definite shape yet (Mark 2:22). It’s time for Christians to remember that our Lord wasn’t meek and mild but was considered a threat to the status quo (Mark 3:6). It’s time for churches to wake up (Eph. 5:14) and see that this is no time for business as usual and start taking justice as seriously as our public relations.
So, I don’t need social justice warriors, I don’t need Facebook trolls. I’m looking for people whose hearts break for what Jesus’ heart breaks for. I need people who have the courage to swim upstream and yet at the end of the day, can still muster the strength to be gentle, patient and faithful.
Anyway, that’s who we’re looking for.