-- Glen Edward Quiring
Religion is dead. Or so many think. Truthfully, I see their point.
Refusal to Change
If the modern world taught us anything, its that change is always around the corner. Some change takes longer than others. But make no mistake, change will come. This reality makes me wonder if the passing of a religious orientation to life is like a giant corporation whose best years are behind it.
But we all do this right? We stake our identity on that which is established. We don't venture too far from that which is tried and true. We are not willing to risk what made our personal and organizational lives initially successful.
I grew up in a Denomination full of vitality. Today, that denomination, like so many others, is wilting and shrinking. It's capacity to innovate is gone and the remnant are hanging on for dear life as they cling to well worn traditions. Sure, some of its product lines have considerable life left in them (Sponsored schools, for example) but the core dynamic is played out. If these remaining products misread the complex nature of the current marketplace, they too will suffer the same fate as their churches.
Is there Any Value?
So the question is, is there any core value in religion that facilitates our ability to move with the market (and culture) while remaining committed to our core values? Many think not. And not without good reason, I might add. A quick glance at the headlines indicates religion to be a source of continuous competition and violent conflict. People, it seems, will go to just about any lengths to protect a way of life that has provided meaning to themselves and their progeny.
I suggest that there exist values that promote a high functioning spirituality but are flexible enough to bend and reinvent the way in which religion is expressed: faith, hope, and love. These values are not products of the community but the drivers.
Imagine seeing your church or community reimagine their corporate meetings, their sermons, homilies, their worship, around faith (expressing what is yet unseen), hope (having an optimistic belief in the future) and love (putting the needs of others - inside and outside that community) before their own needs for doctrinal certainty and correct belief.
Are you willing to risk your traditions and beliefs for the sake of a Higher Purpose? Can you risk your personal traditions for the sake of your spouse? For your children? Can you imagine risking the traditions and beliefs of your church or other religious group for the sake of the man or woman who lives right across the street?
Test your religion and ask your self, your staff, "Are our values driving our ministry or does our ministry drive us?"
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