Recently I was in Jacksonville Florida for a conference put on by the UMC. One of the groups there was putting forth a campaign calling people to ReThink church. I love this idea, as I have working on ReThinking and ReVisioning church for most of my adult life. As I have reflected on the concept, I have found one major stumbling block. Lay persons are often more than ready to rethink church, it is my colleagues and myself who can hold up the progress.
If we are going to ReThink church for our time and place the starting point is to ReThink clergy. It is time for us clergy people to stop holding the church captive and release them. I know I am not alone in this thought and this process. Over the last week I have begun interacting more with the under 40 clergy of the soon to be Upper New York Annual Conference. What excites me most is not that we are all theologically homogeneous, we are not, not that we are all socially engaged the same way, we are not. What excites me is the fact we all realize it is time to ReThink church and what it means to pastor a church.
By comparison the group is small. The percentage of total clergy is much larger than our group. Isn't that how it works with reformation. Rarely, if ever, can the majority lead the reformation. In fact it seems by definition reformation is a minority report that will not go away. Often those of us in this under the hill grouping of clergy are seen as loud, pretentious, bold, and that we just don't get it. I have no argument to any of that. Some have voiced how when we have more experience in life we will shift the way we think and function. This response shows me just how desperately it is time to ReThink clergy. What is happening is not merely a shift in paradigm, it is not merely youthful inexperience and enthusiasm. At the core what is happening is a new breed and understanding of clergy is emerging.
The body of Christ is too important to not be vital and fresh, addressing the issues of this day, through the wisdom of centuries before us. This is too important to simply maintain business as usual. The time has come for a new understanding, which is not necessarily new. The time has come to recapture the lost ways of the ancients. It is time to ReThink everything.