I was recently introduced to the French sociologist and theologian named Michel de Certeau and an essay he wrote in 1973 entitled “How is Christianity Thinkable Today?” (You can find it in The Postmodern God.)
In this essay Certeau reflects on the decline of the church, and he asks how can we imagine a vital, living, church today, and from whence that vitality and life arises.
I love his answer...
Every mainline Protestant denomination is struggling with declining membership, decreasing financial support, and the question of how best to be the Body of Christ in this time.
In response, my denomination, the ELCA, created the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force, which was charged with making recommendations on how to change our denominational structures or "ecology" in order to help best fulfill our mission today. The task force issued its final report to the ELCA on April 11th.
My short take is that the task force shows very good instincts, particularly in its overarching recommendation regarding the shift of focus and resources to local congregations. However, I think the report also falls victim to three persistent problems we face in our church ecology.