To say that my head hurt at the end of the general session tonight would be an understatement. I honestly found myself struggling at times to stay focused listening to Phyllis Tickle. However, I am glad I did, because when she finally pulled it all together at the end I found myself thinking wow, I am really glad to be a part of what is happening on the horizon for the church as a whole.
Basically, the session was a bit like a church history class, minus the cup of coffee that I used to have to keep me awake then. It a was very much a lecture outlining the history of the church via 500 year time periods, with it being pointed out, that we are very near the end of the next 500 year period-meaning we are on the brink of most likely changing where the church views its authority structure. We've heard alot about this over the past couple years, but she really put it into perspective in showing that we are really moving away from our structured "natal" (born with church traditions) into more of a bridging/combined theological structure made up of a lot of different faith traditions within the Christian church. No longer are we simply mainline or conservative, evangelical or fundamentalist, but most likely as the new generation rises there is some combination of the crew. While I wonder if this is somewhat cultural in how it will unfold (I'm not sure I see a whole lot of it among the people in our community and with my students), I know it is right where I am at in my spiritual journey having grown up in a fundamental Christian environment and now serving in a more mainline/social justice driven tradition.
I really again am not sure how this is going to flesh out within my life and ministry, but she emphasized that we are shaping the church of the next 300 years with what we are doing now and honestly that excites me. I don't claim to be anything spectacular-I simply try to do my best to serve the Lord, but I am excited the think that maybe I might just have a small part in what the church will become. I'm really glad I stuck with the message until the end, it wound up being one of the best "lectures" I've set through in a while.
Thoughts-what is the church looking like in your area? What do you see happening in the future? What can we do now to help our churches and ministries during this transition? Is it cultural or is it happening across the board. Those are the questions I have...thoughts?