This week, I’ve had the privilege of spending the week with the Montreat College Conference with over 1,500 college students and some of my dearest friends in life and in ministry as I serve as the conference pastor, a workshop leader, and the conference artist. It’s been a blast. Even as I battle a lingering cold.
Last October I was at Montreat as well for the DISGrace conference. While there, my friend Lindsey participated in a Q & A. In it, she challenged the people of the church and from the stage she boldly proclaimed, “the church is dying.” And she wasn’t wrong.
This morning, the PCUSA’s Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson, a man on a mission to make the church inclusive and to live into our call as people of God through initiatives such as Freedom Rising. He also offered this to the people gathered together: the church is not dying, it is reforming. You can see the video here. Nelson is right.
As Christians, we believe in the resurrection. That in the life AND death of Jesus, we are made whole. Jesus’ death comes with life.
As Reformed Protestant Christians, we believe that we are always reforming.
Sometimes reforming can also mean death. Death to old traditions that aren’t as relevant. Death to policies that were exclusive. Death to the things that keep us, as a church, from living into God’s call on us.
And with death, comes new life. It means new and inclusive practices. New life in spiritual practices. New ways to live out our faith through initiatives. New and inclusive leadership for women, young people, queer people, people who are differently-abled; leadership opportunities for those who have for so long been denied or held back.
Yes, the church is dying. But it is also reforming into something wild and beautiful. The faces and voices on the video tell us that.
Thanks be to God.