We have come to realise that things are not going back to the way they were.
For many years now, the church has been wrestling with its place in our communities, our culture at large and within the lives of people that used to attend our services. All this was before 2020. The last three years have revealed and accelerated significant change in our cultures, communities, relationships and therefore our church communities as well. Right now, it is difficult to see where things are heading.
These are realities that we need to be honest about and wrestle with … together.
On Monday, March 14th LCAQD Bishop Mark Vainikka lead around 100 people from all over Queensland and from all departments of our church who are ready to be honest with these realities and are seeking God’s direction in how we respond as a church. The format was an online workshop titled ‘Navigating our Future together.’
Bishop Mark used the analogy of our changing culture to that of a young person moving multiple times during their 20s and their subsequent changes in address. For those that want to send mail and communicate with that young person, they need to constantly be updating their address and finding the ‘new place’ where they live.
He pointed out that the shifts happening in our society are seismic, as the tectonic plates continue to shift under the feet of the institutional church. There has been so much change in society in recent decades that the landscape before us can seem foreign. We, therefore, ask in the words of God’s people in exile: ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:4)
Bishop Mark asked us to discuss “Where to from here”? … because God is just as much at work in our communities as he was back in the days of ‘football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.’ He is still bringing to birth new life, new growth, and new hope into our communities. Our challenge is: How can we work together as a church to discern and understand where God is at work, what he is doing and how, together, we can join with him.
As we spent time in our breakout rooms, local workers and volunteers from across our LCAQD agencies explored what their future could look like as they considered what it means to sing a new song. Some of their reflections were:
Connectedness is at the heart of our communities. People are searching for meaning beyond themselves or what the world has to offer. Churches need to walk in the world and be with the world – not frightened of it or keeping ourselves separate. We are way past ‘tweaking’ Sunday services to appeal to young/others/unchurched/children – we need to be offering ‘answers’ to the questions of today’s world.
That we need to be a relational Church in action. We say we are, but we don’t always listen to the members and their needs.
Many of us are walking on the same path of feeling lost and we could be working closer together instead of trying to solve issues by ourselves
Church will be different in the future because the communities in which we live and work will be different. Schools/Lutheran Services are poignantly placed to be able to help us vision what the future may look like.
Directed movement into a changing world really requires two things: a clear sense of who we are and an even clearer sense of whose we are.
It was also clear that we are all wrestling with similar things….so it was nice to chat with others from different arms of the church
What stood out is a common acceptance that this is an important conversation that we need to keep having. It may be uncomfortable, it may be challenging, we may not like it because we don’t feel like we have any answers and we don’t know where to find answers, but trusting Christs’ presence with us, we can confidently keep wondering how we can sing the Lord song in this new situation in which we find ourselves.
Here in a link to the video of Bishop Mark’s presentation. Please watch, reflect and share within your faith communities.
Save the date: the Conversations will continue in person on September 12 at our LCAQD Ministry Summit.