The theological concepts expressed in previous blog lead to three substantial changes in how churches will be organized in the future.
1) There will ceased to be a distinct separation between laity and clergy. There’s nothing in the postmodern definition of ‘Church’ which requires a designated priesthood. It may be helpful to continue to ordain some church leaders as ‘clergy’ and entrust them with supervision of “word, sacrament, and order” – which in postmodern language is: the faithful application of biblical text to current context, the holy practice of the sacraments, and the fair and democratic ordering of congregational life. The terms clergy and lay will become more and more a matter of how a person functions within the local church, and not a status that travels with a person in other contexts.
2) In the Internet age, seminary training will not be a prerequisite for ‘religious authority.’ Today all people have equal access to information. Religious leaders fulfill their calling, however, by helping people of a particular time and place interpret Christian Word or Text for their situation. Trained leaders also perform teaching roles and act as guides for organizing healthy, compassionate, and spiritually aware congregations.
3) Congregations can be of any size. The goal of the institutional Church is not to accumulate more members nor is it to make individual congregations grow. Denominations, if they continue at all in the postmodern world, will need to serve the kingdom of God. This means helping each community develop the form of religion that enables its people to live better and more meaningful lives. We are driven by compassion to make the world our parish, not to grow our institution so that it encompasses our world. We must learn to offer Christ and his simplicity, instead of the burdensome rules of our order.