Saturday Morning Movie: Does the Church Have a Future?

Diana Butler Bass tells us (courtesy of Day1) about the signs of hope she sees regarding the future of the church. Listen to her story about what happened on Ash Wednesday last year in Chicago as we prepare for Lent ourselves.



Yes, not only is this a sign of hope, but I think it is also the way things usually happen. Spiritual awakening happens "out there in the streets" and then the churches try to catch up. When I was in high school in the 1970s, the "Jesus Movement" was all abuzz. I remember at that time watching a panel discussion on William F. Buckley's PBS program. There a bishop began talking about the Jesus Movement. He said something like, "We've been praying for years for spiritual revival in the church, and now here it is happening outside our walls, out in the streets!." Buckley replied, "You sound surprised, Bishop!"

So parts of the church captured elements of that Jesus Movement. I have friends today that were brought in to the faith during that time. As Diana Butler Bass points out, those once new and invigorated traditions have lost that fresh immediacy that was initially experienced on the streets and beach fronts and coffee houses across the country all those years ago. Yet like the coming of the fresh ocean tides, we will see a new season of spiritual invigoration. Then we'll dress it up in church clothes until we wear it out, but thank God anyway for that spiritual longing that keeps people going which church professionals often lose sight of - until they see it dancing in the streets.
Charles, thanks for your thoughtful and well-articulated post. I was part of that Jesus Movement stuff in the 70's, and while I moved towards the liturgical tradition as an adult, many of my friends continue the ministries they felt called to back then. It is a shame that we are so slow to recognize things outside our "norm" as kin, that new expressions or ways of being church are hard for us to square sometimes, but I guess that's "normal."