Until now, the religious contract that the Church had with people was that, through participation in the Church as an institution their own life and the world could be a better place. Devotion is what the Church demanded; transformation (via belonging, ritual, activism, etc.) is what it offered in return.
What the decline of Mainline Protestantism signals to me is the failure of this religious contract to be relevant (aka necessary) in the world of today and tomorrow where almost anything the Church can do is done better and more impactfully through other means.
Driven by purpose
Read this quote with me (underline mine):
A company’s purpose or mission statement was originally about “what’s within our four walls, but more and more it’s about what’s outside of our four walls,” says Shannon Schuyler, chief purpose and inclusion officer at the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
It’s from a recent story entitled, “The C-suite job of the future: Chief purpose officer” (Axios). Among other things, the story highlights the fact that:
“People truly don’t want to show up to their jobs and just get a paycheck anymore,” Schuyler says. Employees, especially younger ones, will even quit if they don’t feel a sense of purpose at work, she says.
And, there’s a reason for all of this. It’s not necessarily that the corporation has found Jesus. It’s that, in a global study that asked the question, “How much do you trust this institution to do what is right,” these were the results:
- My employer = 77%
- Business = 62%
- Non-governmental Organizations = 58%
- Government = 56%
- Media = 51%
Let’s say that “church” might be thought of as a “non-governmental organization” – that puts it at a distant third after a person’s employer and business at large. What this means is that people see their employment as key to exercising agency in the world – to purposefully construct a life and a world – whether the Church likes it or not. Paradoxically, or perhaps as a result, a great number of workers are considering quitting their job in what economists have dubbed, “The Great Resignation.”
The gap between church and calling
I believe that the next decade of ministry will look much different than that of the past century. The big reason for this is that the digital-age has made possible the kind of democratization of a life of faith even further than The Reformation. If this claim is true, then the Church as an institution should position itself as a platform (not necessarily a community).
That’s why PASTORIA is building The Dreamery, a platform for discerning, starting, and building spiritual entrepreneurship led by underrepresented founders.
Sound interesting? We are looking for local churches wanting to partner to bring about the next version of a life of faith in the world of today and tomorrow. Just reply to this email and we can explore the possibilities!
James from PASTORIA
Head of Guidance