A real problem with so much hand wringing over the future of the Church is that there’s so little re-centering of hope on the person and work of Jesus.
The hope for the continued vitality of the church too often seems to be in getting our doctrinal ducks in row in either a conservative or liberal direction…
The problem with that is getting our doctrinal ducks in a row IS NEVER enough.
I’m not saying doctrine isn’t important, it’s just…
It’s not even the right starting point!
Start again with Jesus.
Point people to Jesus.
Meditate on your experience of Jesus.
Listen to catholic witness regarding Jesus.
Lift up Jesus.
Deconstruct what is not Christlike.
…but not according to “progress,” or to the “early Church,” or a romanticized Protestant ideal, to Christ and Christ alone.
There is unending hope for the future in this process, because while theological systems come and go, and even Communions fall apart…
It is Christ himself that draws all people to himself.
Is this messy? Yes.
Does it require faith that Christ will indeed truly build his church, even using our weakness?
It absolutely does.
You may wonder which Jesus? Mormon Jesus, Muslim Jesus, Protestant Jesus, Roman Catholic Jesus? Jesus the meek and mild of the Anabaptists or the Gun ‘n’ God Jesus of the Christian Nationalists?
I say, the one that defeated death with forgivess,
the one that (amazingly!) we have good reason to believe is actually alive and reigning at the right hand of God,
the one then that can and will DO SOMETHING in the present,
the one that is most consistently attested to throughout the ages in the 4 canonical Gospels, and the worshipping life of the church in all places and and times,
the one the holy martyrs placed their faith in,
the one that restored divine glory to humanity and demonstrated fully the humanity of the divine,
the one that convicts but never condemns,
the one who loved, is loving, and will always love without reservation,
And if you wonder what this Jesus thinks love is,
Just look at him on the Cross.
There is my only enduring hope for any church, for any person, and for myself.