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I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Staggering Lack of Imagination

In my experience, most congregations, and by extension the people who are within them, suffer, stagnate, and die from a staggering lack of imagination. People get frustrated that things are declining, scared that a promised future will not appear, and generally bored to the point of not caring. Those are people suffering from a staggering lack of imagination.

Bored is something you do to yourself. God didn't create you to be boring or bored, but you were created to be part of the party. If you choose not to go to the dance floor, that's probably OK, as long as your not bored with whatever you're doing on the margins. I feel especially bad for millenials in this case.

As a group, the people who have come of age since the advent of the internet are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to basic human interaction. Many of their formative experiences happened on a screen, whether a computer, phone, or video game, and as such they have reached ages in their mid-twenties still not having a lot of experience dealing with people face-to-face. They can be shy and reticent, simply because they are not used to dealing with people without a screen. So they get bored unless a screen is involved because that is often when they are most involved. The workplace, school, community events, are often places where they are uncomfortable and disengaged, and they find them boring. Congregations fit this bill. (Clearly this is an over-generalization, but I want to highlight one point: namely, face-to-face interactions, the life-blood of most Christian congregations, are not something we get from genetics, they have to be learned.)

A congregation that offers face-to-face interaction as its reason for existing (I get this a lot when people say, "My church is so friendly." No one cares. If that's the only reason why your congregation exists, I recommend closing. It's not a compelling reason to live.) is a congregation that many people don't know how to deal with anymore. The question congregations have to answer for many people these days is: How can we minister in face-to-face ways with people who only know how to (or are only comfortable with) screen-meditated relationships? You can lament all you want about this switch, but the millenials are already raised, and the next group? They were born in Twitter.

God believes in our context, our world. That's why Jesus bothered to come over here and muck around for awhile before we couldn't stand the honesty and truth he brought to us: humans matter to God. God doesn't want you to be bored, God wants us to be part of the world, part of life, to live, to suffer in love (which is different than suffering in abuse), and to relish a future God has promised. God gave humans imagination, and to not use it seems like such a waste.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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