What is the future of the church?
As our churches emerge from the pandemic, what direction will we take? What is our vision for the future? Where are our churches going? How do we find our calling? What is the future of the church?
These are some of the questions my guest, Markus Watson, addresses in this week’s episode.
Markus is a Presbyterian minister in San Diego, CA. In our conversation he digs down into the heart of what church is all about.
The future of the Church
Markus shares how at first, he resisted the call to go into the ministry, but now pastors not only a church, but other pastors and churches as well.
We talked about:
- The challenges pastors face from the pressure their churches put on them and the pressure they put on themselves
- The importance of silence and solitude for pastors and church members
- Spending time prayerfully in the Scriptures
- Surrendering the control of the church to God
- Some of the struggles churches in North America are facing today
The real need of the church
Markus says the real need for churches today is to pay attention to what God is doing in their communities and then get involved in that.
He defines the church’s calling as Shalom, not just peace or the absence of hostilities, but the comprehensive state of well-being that touches every aspect of daily life.
The church is called to bring Shalom into the world, to bring this well-being into our relationship with God, with others, with all creation, and with ourselves.
Different churches are good at different things. They have different gifts to bless their communities with. Markus repeatedly encourages churches to see where healing and wholeness is needed in your community and use your gifts as a church to minister where the need is.
Your church in your community
How is your church uniquely wired to bless your community? How do you figure that out?
That’s what Markus’s book is all about, Beyond Thingification: Helping Your Church Engage in God’s Mission.
How is God calling your church?
It starts with listening to God, to fellow church members and to people in your community.
It requires time spent in prayer and in the Scriptures.
Over time, you and your church will get a sense of where you belong and where you’re going as a church.
What would Jesus say?
I asked Markus what Jesus would say if he walked into our churches today.
“He would say, ‘I love you guys. Now, follow me.'”
Our call to follow Jesus and serve the world begins with our belovedness. Do we find our identity in what we have accomplished or in Jesus’s love for us?
We all need to find our identity as “the one whom Jesus loves.”
The ideal church
Markus defines the ideal church as
- a community of love for God, each other, and our neighbors
- a community that takes action flowing from that love
Where are we going as a church?
The church must learn to adapt to be “church” in new ways.
Church is not going to look the way it used to. We have to let go of a desire to return to the past.
Markus says that the decline of the church is actually a gift which we get to wrestle with. It forces us to answer the question: Why do we exist?
It’s not just to provide spiritual services for the community.
Church exists to bring God’s healing and wholeness into the world, to bring God’s Shalom into the world.
How will your church fulfill it’s calling?
Markus Watson, M.Div., D.Min. is a pastor, podcaster, and author. Markus hosts the Spiritual Life and Leadership podcast. He coaches pastors and churches and lives in San Diego with his wife and three kids.
James Early is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster and conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.