This past Sunday, I must confess, I didn’t attend church. I realize this isn’t very shocking for most people today but since my wife is on staff at a local congregation, this time alone on a Sunday morning was quite rare. I passed the time catching up on odd jobs around the house that I had put off for sometime. While I casually took care of the menial tasks, my mind began to wander. I began to think about the future, both mine and (for some reason) the church’s.
Very soon my world is going to change, my wife and I are expecting a little girl in June, and I can’t help but think about how she will view religion in the 21st century. For better or worse, our little girl has two seminarians for parents so I image she will have a few opinions on the subject of church. Sometimes I wonder the point of church in today’s society. Is it a place for socializing, programs, gossip or can it truly be the epicenter of God’s transformative action within the world? I idealistically want to believe the latter.
At this point my mental wanderings converged and I thought about why my little girl might need the church, and this is what I concluded. I want her to experience the importance of sharing, grace, redemption, and love within community. I want her to recognize injustice in society and know that it is not right. I want her to look compassionately at a homeless stranger, an orphan or an elderly person and desire to help them achieve a better life. I want her to see the beauty of God’s creation and fight for a more environmentally minded society. Finally, I want her to know the teachings of Jesus and model her life after his radical message of hope and peace.
When I was finished daydreaming I felt convicted. I realized the church still has the potential to teach my little girl to be the presence of Christ in the world but perhaps we have just lost our direction.
I think this little girl is going to grow up to be an amazing person. I hope the church, in some form, will also offer her a place to serve and live in community.
I think it’s because of people like you and your wife and all that you dream and want for the church and all that you bring to the church will shape the church for what she needs to be for the next generation.