If our church isn’t a place of genuine inclusivity for the 21st century, are we a 21st century church? How do we define inclusive? If the world is changing, are we able to change with it? What if this new church looks different than we think it should?
Jeffrey Kjellberg’s IMAGINING A NEW CHURCH: What if We’re Asking the Wrong Questions? opens the door to a conversation about who we have been, who we are now, and who we can be in the future. In recent years, we have experienced a decline in both membership and engagement, and have struggled to sustain ourselves in a shifting and uncertain landscape. We have always relied on our history as a church to both energize our present and direct our path forward. But what if we don’t just have a storied past but a new and exciting future?
Rather than relying on failing strategies – strategies that have not turned our diminishing communities of faith around – what if we work towards a new practice? Through a series of self-examing questions, Kjellberg leads the reader through a process of deep reflection and creative inspiration. He asks us to examine our preset beliefs about who we are and what we believe, and explore a new way of being church.
This is not easy work and Kjellberg encourages us to express the full range of our doubts, fears and sorrows. But rather than mourning where we are now, what if the mystery of the future is what inspires our present? Can we find that new path forward without letting fear of loss block our way? Imagining A New Church challenges us to ask ourselves a new set of questions, freeing us from the need to recover to a place of imagining something new.
We want our church and our faith to be both relevant and responsive to a changing and needful world. Our confounding present is just one stop on our pilgrimage into a hopeful future. This process of doing and undoing, making and unmaking, is challenging. But in our love for our church, we can find the strength to forge a new way, a new path. The future can be one of hope and creation, rather than a time of sadness, darkness and loss. Jeffrey Kjellberg’s Imagining a New Church is a bright lantern on this journey.