A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church. This is not a scholarly effort, crafting neither an ecclesiastical nor a theological system. Rather, it is simply a futurist’s snapshot – it is how I imagine the church proceeding forward through the next decades in the tradition of the Reformation.
As I have said on several occasions, the Reforming Church exists to bring the Gospel hope of Jesus Christ into the fabric of its community and neighborhood context. Yet, the extent of the service of the Reforming Church is not only local. It is global.
Every Follower of the Way of Jesus Christ, voluntarily dedicates one year of his or her life to service in a community and neighborhood outside of his or her own context, witnessing the prophetic mandate of Jesus, laboring for Jesus’ Shalom (the Biblical wellness of humanity we conveniently translate as peace but is far more than simply the cessation of violence).
Basically, this is a year of service, in which the Follower of the Way integrates his or her life into a community alien to his or her own experience. During this time, the servant serves by being present and helpful. The point is not to bring a better way or a new way into focus, rather it is to serve under the guidance and wisdom of community leaders. During this year of special service, the Follower of the Way fully unites with a congregation of faith, adapting to the mores and norms of the community.
In this way, the Reforming Church transforms itself into a worldwide communion of faith with an appreciation for the diversity of humanity and of the ecology of human life. With this wisdom, Reforming Church finds itself increasingly better equipped to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ, globally.
That is the Reforming Church labors for goodwill and peace in the world (Luke 2:14). This is the universal appeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in which the Reforming Church is grounded.
Where the Reforming Church is the sending institution, it prepares and equips the Follower of the Way for its context of special service. Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that the Follower of the Way is fully prepared to be a self-supported guest in a context other than his or her own.
This time of special service, however, is not required to be of “sacred” origin. Volunteering in a National or International program that seeks to broaden human understanding of one another is a viable option for this year of service.