This is what I believe needs said now, and said, and said and said…what got the Church to this sobering point, where she has squandered her position of authority to the body of Christ, cannot get us to where Jesus is leading now. Let me say it again: What got the Church HERE cannot get her THERE. And no matter of theological, historical or wishful argument will make that any less so.
What does the Church need now? An emphasis on developing leadership that is deeply imbued with Jesus’ view of how Christians organize themselves; that understands that ordination, titles and power do not translate into the ability to lead others to Jesus and then with Jesus; that is committed to gaining intellectual and practical leadership skills; and, that believes that now is the acceptable time to practice putting on that higher mind Jesus intends His followers to work from. Now is the time.
The case has been made with surveys and statistics. The case is being made with empty pews and insufficient giving. The case is made every time another story of sex abuse and cover-up unfolds. Yesterday it was the Church in Japan, finally getting their part of the story revealed. Today it is removing the veil of secrecy by removing the pontifical secret. These the the signs of our times. To ignore them is to shun the Spirit’s voice, crying out today that NOW is the acceptable time. Now is the time to develop leaders who can shepherd the Church out of peril: competent, compassionate, confident, and collaborative leaders. Ordained and lay leaders. Leaders that respect Jesus’ description of his people: in Him there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman. This is the people who recognize Jesus began a new organizational creation based in call, charisms and mission rather than in gender, power, prestige and possessions. Now is the time.
The winnowing fan is already in His hand. He’s already separating the good from the evil, the competent from the incompetent, the criminals from the faithful. He’s already shining light in the darkness and exposing what has been hidden. AND he is already calling men and women, lay and ordained to lead His Body closer to Him and into the mission He died to begin: the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
What happens if the Church refuses to respond by forming leaders equipped for this moment in time? For starters, it is easy to predict that more of the same will happen: more people will leave, fewer will come to the font of baptism or to the covenant of marriage, some who stay will defect in place: taking but not giving. What will happen if the Church refuses? Fewer vocations, and those who are currently serving in ordained ministry will be less effective due to burnout and overwork. Fewer lay men and women will bring their talents to dioceses and parishes, preferring to serve the Lord outside these dysfunctional and arcane structures. Mature disciples will forego membership in parishes, preferring communities organized around discipleship: learning and serving together in small house churches where they can openly listen to the voice of the Lord and follow it without fear. What happens if the Church refuses? Since Jesus intends the Church to continue until He comes again, it will continue …extra-ecclesially. The institutional Church as we know it will continue to struggle to be the Body of Christ Jesus intends. BUT, the Body of Christ will continue to follow their Shepherd, listening to His voice and creating new ways of communing with Him, with one another and with the world desperate for Good News. And they will do it outside the current ecclesial structures.
Now is the acceptable time for the Church to understand the signs of the times are calling for her to invest in developing leaders equipped for these circumstances: leaders who have heard God’s call to serve the Church, who are open to the new creation Jesus is trying to birth, and who are willing to embrace concepts and skills that will enable them to be the kind of leaders Jesus envisions: courageous, prescient, prudent and mission-centered. Called and gifted is not enough. Today’s ecclesial leaders need concepts and skills so that they can effectively shepherd a wandering Church into the new creation Jesus is birthing.
Now is the acceptable time. We are here, ready to help those of you who recognize this truth and who want to be better equipped to lead in today’s Church. Check out our blogs and the contemporary leaders we are introducing to you there. Contact us for coaching, mentoring, and helping you bring others into this essential journey. Now is the acceptable time.