Friday, August 18, 2006

mid life

Someone told me today that our church is in a mid life crisis. The church is over 50 years old now. I wondered what does it mean for a church (or a person for that matter) to be in a mid life crisis.
Well, it seems to me that a person in a mid life crisis is often examining their life. They often look back with great longing to their youth. In fact many try and reclaim their youth. Which is why men buy sports cars and pick up young women. A teacher of mine stated that mid life crisis is a time when a person looks over their life to see if what they had committed their life to was worth it. So often people despair in this time because what they committed to is not really worth their life. The other dynamic is that in mid life people start to realize that they are going to die and things are going have to change. They come to conclusion that they are not going to be young forever. This is another reason that they try and reclaim their youth - well they still can.
But what does all this mean for a church stuck in mid life crisis? Well it means that it is examining itself. It could be struggling with what it will become like in the future. Will it try and reclaim the past like a 50 year old man acting like a teenager? Or will it move into the future? Also both people and the church are really facing death. People physical death, for the church it could be death of programs. The one big difference is that if the church does not embrace the future (including death and change) then it will really die. If a person does not embrace the future they will just look silly until they die.
It should be interesting seeing where Jesus is going to lead the church. It will also be interesting to see if we are willing to follow.

2 comments:

Greg said...

Good thoughts Ben. The church will never die, local congregations (much like the cells in our bodies) will die, but even in their death, the body is not necessarily harmed. Some cells have outlived their function if their mission was for a finite time or "purpose" (there is that annoying word again) Like the Polka congregations of the 1950s, we're all glad that they have closed their doors, but we don't think the church of Jesus is any weaker for that closing ;-) Love ya man, stay real.

More seriously, I know a church that has been "in transition" for the last 2-3 years, it still makes an impact for the Kingdom because it is full of saints and Jesus uses saints to change the world and minister His love, but in terms of a common cumulative contribution, it is pretty hard to nail down a pattern. While reflection is important, it can be a trap if there isn't a strong desire to get out the other side of the swamp ;-).

Greg said...

BTW thanks for the "follow the Rabbi" link (the Thinking in Hebrew section was amazing.)