While many institutions exist to maintain the status quo (or at least to remain relatively stable and unchanged), churches are different. In fact, churches that hope to be relevant, vital and thriving exist to facilitate continuous transformation.
While our physical structure is being transformed, it might be good to think about other kinds of transformation as well. Our church facilitates religious transformation on three levels:
- First, in a liberal religious community, the fact of being bound together by a shared covenant, with free and open discourse and discernment, changes each of us in dramatic ways. In other words, what transpires between and among us in authentic religious community is bound to change each of us—and change us in ways, both large and small, that we cannot possibly predict beforehand.
- Second, religious transformation suggests that in order to stay bound together in any meaningful way, our congregation (and other religious organizations and institutions) must exist in a state of perpetual change. Maintaining the status quo is not a religious undertaking. On the contrary, transformation is the only option for religious institutions if they wish to thrive.
- Third, religious transformation inevitably expresses itself as movement outward toward change in the larger community and the world. Real and meaningful religious transformation is undergirded by a vow to that which is larger than just those few gathered together and compels us to work to fulfill a specific mission both within and beyond our walls.
All three of these ideas center on this notion that the very things that bind us together will (and must) change us and change themselves and lead individuals and institutions toward changing the world.
Many religious organizations and communities are failing in one or more of these three areas: individuals are not being meaningfully transformed; the organizations themselves have stagnated and resist changes at all costs; and/or these communities are not acting upon a larger vow or mission in any important way.
In coming months, you will hear me talking more about transformation and how critically important it is to us as individuals and as a congregation to stay engaged in this work. We have embarked on an amazing journey of transformation, and I am looking forward to whatever comes next for us and we move ahead together!