Oh boy… here we go…

I have asked this question many times… Do we need churches? I do not ask this question because I know the answer and I want to blog about a specific related topic. I ask this question because I am authentically curious. As society and technology continues to reshape our communities; as science and spirituality continue to slowly replace dogma and ancient ritual, the question of whether or not we need churches becomes more valid.

Jeremy John, a Christian Social Activist and writer tried to tackle this question in a recent article on the Huffington Post. Jeremy John asked some great questions before tackling the biggy – Do we need churches?  He asked if the wealth in property we’ve inherited is hindering our work for social justice. He asked “If there are so many churches in America, why does America look so unlike the Kingdom of God?” Why are we strangers to our neighbors? Why do we have homeless poor among us? Why do sweatshops produce the majority of our goods? Why do we have the greatest per-capita incarceration rate in the world? Why are we choking the earth with fossil fuels?”  I have always answered this quandary with a simple statement– the reason religion fundamentally fails is because religion teaches people to follow and not to lead. We need more leaders, advocates and role models that transcend religion and meet the needs of everyone and not just a specific race or group of people.

So, what about churches? To keep up with the times, John contends many churches have taken hold of the logic of industrial capitalism even while Christian faith calls us into love.  And it is not just the Christians or Catholics – it is literally all faiths in the west. Can you blame them? Churches can’t survive alone on donations or tax breaks – they need to make money and be a viable business. The problem is (as Jeremy John states) “our economic system treats people and places like things, as interchangeable and, ultimately, disposable. Jeremy asks, “has this cancerous logic entered our own thinking in some ways?”

Absolutely…

Jeremy concludes his article calling for churches to relight the hearth and invite parishioners and communities back. But he adds an interesting twist. The time has come for churches to think outside of the box (or outside of the pew). The burden is less on instilling fear of hell and the devil and more into correcting social injustices – feeding and caring for the poor and homeless, reducing crime, building more green communities and fighting climate change.  Wow, I actually agree with that!

So, this blog piece might not really be about whether or not we need Churches. It is about people being their own advocates (their own church) – People being their own leader. It is about people having the wisdom and mindfulness to know good from evil – not from reading a book or listening to a pastor or priest; but simply knowing it in their heart.  I truly do not think churches or religions are going to change anytime soon – at least not on a national or global level. Nothing has changed in 2000 years… why would it change now?  But we can change!

Do we need churches?  That is not for me to answer.  I will say this… All I need is a little sunlight shining through a few trees with warmth and energy glowing on my face and I am close enough to god. I think I am going to post this blog and go outside and find me some…

John C. Bader

www.responsiveuniverse.com

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