Eddie Gibbs, professor at Fuller Seminary, has recently published a book called Church Morph: How Megatrends are Reshaping Christian Communities. In it, he states that the range of issues that churches are addressing today cannot be adequately addressed by simply tweaking here and there, adding programs, reworking organizational structures, or improving internal communications. Our structures were designed for a different cultural context, in which change was more predictable and occurred at a slower pace. Today, we live in a culture of discontinuous and often unpredictable change. Our hierarchies paralyze initiative and are ponderous in responding to unanticipated challenges.
Gibbs suggests that the morphing of the church relates to its transitions to a new identity as a missional presence in the West. There is a growing realization that our challenges will not be adequately met by adding new programs to ensure our institutional survival. It is time to cultivate a new missional imagination of what God is calling the church to be and to do. Our changing cultural contexts now present unfamiliar challenges to most Western churches. Part of our changing context is that most younger adults are abandoning program-driven churches in search of a more authentic spirituality. Since most of our churches are program-driven, we have to begin to quickly learn a whole new paradigm of doing ministry.
For the church to morph into a post-Christendom context, it will need to adopt a different approach to ministry - from attraction to incarnational presence in the community. The answers and solutions we seek will not be found by merely developing a new style of worship or programs to reach younger generations. Churches are increasingly out of touch because they have not realized the comprehensive nature of the transitions and megatrends that are impacting every area of our lives. An irreversible change is taking place under our noses, and many are missing it.
In the long term, churches will either morph or become moribund. The process will be gradual and the picture will be confusing. But, those who get a sense of where the winds of the Holy Spirit are blowing, will follow Christ down some exciting new avenues of ministry.
What do you think?