I write for Outreach Magazine and in the new issue the theme is "Becoming Tomorrow's Church". For the feature story, I interviewed several college students at George Fox University in Portland, OR about what they would hope the future church to be like. You can read a large section from the article here.
I know that when speaking about the what our hopes and dreams are for the church are that we need to be looking to Scripture first. But Scripture gives us a lot of freedom and dreaming that can be done in imagining what church could be, so it was quite fun listening to these students share.
I have taken a new role as Professor of Missional Leadership at George Fox University (you can read the announcement George Fox University made about that here). This interview was one of many studies I will be doing with students there about various topics on church, theology and culture. George Fox University is a Christian liberal arts university so that means you will have a diverse breadth of students and backgrounds and points of where they are at in their faith journeys which is reflected in the group I met with.
It was a very refreshing time with them and what was most interesting to me was that when I asked them to describe what their ideal church of the future would be – they didn't respond with what type of music they would want. Or whether the preaching style would be verse-by-verse or topical. They all responded with their dreams of how people would be impacted and changed. Yes, those other things will naturally happen, but there wasn't a sense of consumerism about church being all about them, but about others to experience Jesus.
I love listening to college students and will be back in Portland in February for some further interviews as well as some meetings at George Fox University about Origins. Origins is a collaborative group of evangelical leaders, theologians, writers and artists who are passionate about mission and seeing future generations understand their vocation as mission, sharing ideas and learning together. Origins is an open community for those sharing this passion. We started Origins 2 years ago and it got off to such a great start that had so many interested and we had a big event in LA and was part of Catalyst West Coast. But we didn't have the time and energy to put into it since all of us were so consumed with our churches and what we already were doing. But the latest is that as part of my role at George Fox University we will be relaunching Origins in February 2012. But we now have staffing, video and media people and am very much looking forward to what will happen. Robin Baker the president of George Fox University shares the same passion and Origins will now be based out of the university, although there are several other universities involved. This is a Kingdom project as Robin has called it, so it is multi-university and multi-seminaries involved.
I'll be posting on Origins soon, but in addition to the original group of Scot McKnight, Margaret Feinberg, Erwin McManus, Eric Bryant, Dave Gibbons, Amena Brown, Rick McKinley and others – we have added some inspiring folks like Efrem Smith, Britt Merrick, Brad Baker the college pastor at Saddleback, Heather Zempel and Mark Batterson from National Community Church, Jake the Axis pastor at Willow Creek, Carlos Whittaker, theology professors from Wheaton College, Biblical Seminary and Western Seminary (theology will be a major part of Origins). And there is also Kevin Palau the president of Luis Palau Association, Brad Lomenick from Catalyst, Sean McDowell, Mark Matlock from Youth Specialties, Alan and Deb Hirsch, Dave Ferguson, Allison Trowbridge, Drew Dyke from Leadership Journal, Chuck Bomar, John Mark Comer, Mike Erre, Skye Jethani, Jenni Catron from Cross Point Church and more on this team being formed. A major goal of Origins will be discovering new leaders and churches you may not normally hear of as well.
Anyway, wanted to post with the article as I believe we need to listen and learn from college students and young leaders. I look forward to being back at George Fox University in February and listening and learning more. Outreach Magazine is a great magazine to read if you don't, as it isn't just about theory but shows churches of all sizes (they even have a Small Church issue) and what they are doing. I love reading it as I feel like I get a glimpse of churches all around the USA in each issue. And Lindy Lowry, the editor is a very good friend and also on the Origins team so that makes it fun too.
I know in my life I thrive on friendships with those around the country who are in this mission adventure together and learning from others. I think today more than ever we need to be doing this together.