URBAN LIFE AS GOD DREAMS
“The end of the church is not more church—the end of the church is helping more and more people experience life as God dreams of it for them….” Chip Hardwick.
Chip Hardwick’s recent trip and blog, “Effectively Sawing Off the Branch We’re sitting On”, has stimulated a few thoughts….. http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/comings-and-goings/2014/3/2/efficiently-sawing-branch-were-sitting/
As a denomination (PCUSA) we talk about growing new churches. What about the struggling churches we still have? In my mind we are still closing too many doors to existing urban churches without going the extra mile to find new and creative ways to connect with urban dwellers!
As presbyteries, are willing to risk doing what it takes with our limited resources to grow churches from the inside out? Spiritually? In our inner cities? Urban churches and Presbyterian Seminaries need to be re-tooled with resources in order to meet people with the gospel from where they live within the reality of diverse, cultural settings. We need to get away from the metrics of simply counting souls and buildings.
As Chip Hardwick, director of worship and theology of the PCUSA recently stated in his blog (quoting Sergio Ojeda):
The problem is that we are adding churches, but we are not changing the culture.” With this he helped remind me that there is a difference between the ends and the means. The end of the church is not more church—the end of the church is helping more and more people experience life as God dreams of it for them, including both physical care and sustenance and the spiritual resources that come from our faith in Christ. Many of the people who experience this care, sustenance, and faith will be inside the church, but many more will be outside the church. More church is the means by which this end is delivered, but more church is not simply the end itself. The more we remember that churches don’t exist for the benefit of their own members, but the rather for the benefit of the world, the more individuals and society and culture will resemble God’s hopes for them.
In my mind and heart as a Presbyterian, we should be searching for ways to help urban dwellers/congregations “experience life as God dreams of it for them”?
 President Sergio Ojeda, Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico.