What might tomorrow’s faith community look like? (COMMENTARY)

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City Church San Francisco worship service at Sutter Campus. Photo courtesy of Steven Starfas

City Church San Francisco worship service at Sutter Campus. Photo courtesy of Steven Starfas

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(RNS) The big downtown church isn’t empty because church leaders failed or people were unappreciative. It’s empty because people are finding life elsewhere.

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  • I believe I am in the community you describe. I’m a member of a Roman Catholic Intentional Eucharistic Community. This little known lay led alternative to parish life that was created as part of Vatican II.

  • Panoptes

    What the author describes is exactly what the Unitarian-Universalist Church is like. Congregation-led, emphasis on social justice, mutual respect for beliefs but usually maintaining more traditional elements like assembly, hymns, prayer/reflection/meditation, a sermon/message, celebrating rights of passage, etc. UU’s place more importance on deeds, not creeds. it is the religion of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. It offers what I think more and more people are seeking in their spiritual lives, not being told what they are expected to believe but allowed to discover and then practice what they already believe.

  • JR

    A religion without leadership, doctrine, Scripture, or one truth is not a religion attentive to God’s revelation. It is a social club doing good deeds. Ridiculous.

  • Thecla

    Ugh. All work and no play makes a dull church.

    The secular world provides ample opportunities for political action, community service and do-good work. If you want to do good, why bother with the church? If the church doesn’t provide anything that the secular world doesn’t provide cheaper and better, what’s the point of it?

    I didn’t join the church to help humanity, make a better world, become a better person or find ‘community’. I joined for pleasure—for metaphysics, mysticism, sacred space and ceremony, for those fancy downtown brownstone churches with excellent music programs filled with dim religious light and high church liturgy.

    That is what the Episcopal Church is for—because if the Church doesn’t provide those goodies no one else will. And there will be that much less pleasure in the world. And I’m a hedonist: I’m for maximizing utility.

    And I don’t like priests who wear neckties.

  • Mike

    What the author is going for is simply to describe the church/community Jesus started and that the organized religion bearing his name looks nothing like it.

  • EricaH

    Yes, but the UCC still has buildings so you’re flawed according to Ehrich.

  • EricaH

    Ehrich has been wishing for the decline of institutional church and talking about alternatives for years. What’s happened is a decline in people attending church, but the alternatives haven’t followed. Why? Because a congregation without all the things that Ehrich despises isn’t a church; it’s a social club that exists to help other people when they’re down and make people feel good about their life choices. These types of organizations already exist in abundance already in the U.S. There’s no need to recreate the wheel.

  • The one thing missing in Ehrich’s version of the community of followers is some one, or ones, to keep the story. If there are no keepers of the story,the new group may well become a social club of do-gooders and may stray from its Christian heritage. We will always need an upper room in which to gather and recharge our spiritual batteries.