Fear, Change and Church
In her book Daring Greatly researcher and sociologist Brene Brown writes,
The world has never been an easy place, but the past decade has been traumatic for so many people that it’s made changes in our culture. From 9/11, multiple wars, and the recession, to catastrophic natural disasters and the increase in random violence and school shootings, we’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced them as trauma even if we weren’t directly involved.
I wonder if that helps explain the national epidemic of fear. Fear gets expressed as anger, disengagement, polarization, negativity and blame. It seems to have taken the civil right out of civilization. And it leaves many grasping for something to hold onto for security.
Enter the Church. Many Christians want to cling to the institutional church as the one unchanging thing they can count on when everything else seems to be falling apart, a place of safety in a fear-filled world. And that’s a problem because the Church in America is in desperate need of change. The institutional decline which began 50 years ago has accelerated significantly in the past decade. We are in need of reformation, of death and resurrection, if we are going to earn the right to be heard in an increasingly disinterested culture. And we do have a message worth hearing!
One response is to remind ourselves that our sense of security should never be in an institution, but in the unchanging love of God. As Christians we believe that “nothing, neither death nor life…nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” With perfect faith we could hold the institutional church loosely enough to allow it to reform as it has throughout history.
But perfect faith is in short supply, and we are all susceptible to fear. We need a compass to help us navigate when we’re off the map, a compass that will help us to navigate both external change and the inevitable internal turmoil that change creates.
In the next few months our congregation is addressing these issues. Our Vision Team will be listening to the Spirit through the voices of the congregation to discern the external changes needed to thrive in the future. Our preaching will focus on equipping us to navigate the journey of change in our individual and corporate lives.
In the meantime, consider how fear is manifesting itself in your life. What are you holding onto for security? How can you grow in confidence in the One who is holding onto you?
BTW…I highly recommend Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. You can find it here.