Rethinking Church Part 1: Why?
Welcome to the first of a series of journal entries introducing the why, what, and how of New Wine Collective. Follow our journey and join the conversation!
Throughout my 25+ year ministry career, I’ve worn almost every hat there is. I enjoyed my work and like to think I was pretty good at my job! But this year, I made the difficult decision to step outside the familiar territory of church as I’ve known it. Why? Because I believe we need to do better. I long for the Church to be better. And sometimes in order to move forward we must first go back and start at the beginning again.
There are many examples of healthy church communities, and to be part of one is a gift! But the fact remains that people are leaving organized religion in large numbers. Younger generations in particular are finding the institutional church unrelatable and unappealing. A growing majority views church as inaccessible and irrelevant, or even worse, harmful, hateful, and hypocritical.
Many Christians themselves are struggling to make sense of their faith in the light of racism, sexism, and homophobia in some churches; not to mention all the scandals, worship of wealth and celebrity, and now, overt nationalism! Many are tired, bored, and burnt out by consumer Christianity. Too many are recovering from abusive and toxic leadership. The fact that we face such a myriad of issues (both historic and current) suggests the problems are not just at the surface but systemic.
Even for those wanting to give church a try, it is far too difficult to find one that is healthy, compatible, and of course, nearby. Due to unfamiliar customs, awkward social situations, and often alienating doctrinal requirements, the barriers to entry are simply too high for most people. While the Sunday programmatic church model has done much good and is still valuable for many, the world needs alternative expressions of church that can offer a place of belonging to the millions who will never walk through the doors of an institutional church.
This is why New Wine exists. People “outside” church are no less spiritual than people on the “inside.” Everyone longs for deeper spiritual and relational connection. Everyone wants to find meaning and purpose. New Wine seeks to lower barriers and make spiritual community accessible to all, no matter who you are, where you are, or even what you believe.
Church is supposed to be for everyone. It’s supposed to be about good news for ALL people. But in order to make this reality, it will require a systematic rethinking of many of our existing structures and underlying assumptions. We must go back to the drawing board and ask, “What is the Church and what is it for?” We’re not looking for answers that are new per se, but hoping to recover what we may have lost along the way.
Over the past two decades we’ve witnessed seismic cultural shifts that were well under way before COVID-19. The recent global pandemic is simply accelerating these changes. Our world is hurting and broken. People are divided, disconnected, and lonely. It is time for a fresh re-imagining of what it means to be the Church in our day.
Maybe you already see the need for something new or perhaps you’re just curious to see where all this is going. You probably have lots of questions! Wherever you are in your journey, I invite you to join the conversation. Or, if there’s someone you know who might be interested, please share with them. I will be posting new journal entries periodically and I’m excited to share more of our vision with you!
Thank you for reading!