Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Future Causes The Present

Most people believe that the past causes the present, but it's not true. The future causes the present.

Think about the depressed teen who sees nothing but more depression in his future. Is he going to class? Is he getting good grades? What motivation does he have to resist drugs, sex, violence? "Who cares? I'm going to die!" Future pull carries him toward death.

Yeah, but what if I don't believe that the future causes the present? What if I believe the past causes the present? What if the teen's parent's divorced? What if he was abused as a young child? What if...? Yeah, but what would Viktor Frankl say to that? It was not his past that got him throught the concentration camps. No, it was his future.

So, if you think the past causes the present, then I would say that your past has contaminated your future. But it is where you lean forward to that determines so much of where you are today.

Churches are notorious for the past contaminating the future and hurting the present. Since so many Christians in churches pine away for the good ole days when we didn't have to deal with gay marriage, abortion, prayer (not) in schools and so forth. They long for something that they know is impossible. So, there is a hopeless future view and therefore they act hopeless.

Many evangelical churches (Churches of Christ very much included), hopelessly hope for a future that looks like the past. So, that is the way they lean. And so in order to believe they are making progress, they create for themselves Christian ghettos wherein their beliefs can be preserved, but sadly, to the exclusion of the most important people to the church - the lost.

Thus, the future pull on the church is into an abyss that increases the disconnect between the church and the culture - Christian people and non-christian people.

One of the greatest differences between a missional church and a maintenance church is their future. Missional churches view engaging the culture when maintenance churches view preservation from the culture in order to remain comfortable. There are many differences if you think about it.

The idea of future pull is one that church leaders should consider. There is already future pull.

1. What is your current future pull? What future is causing your present?
2. Where is it pulling you? Next year? Five years? Ten years?
3. How strong is it?
4. Is it a missional trajectory or preservation trajectory?
5. Is there future pull toward planting new kinds of churches?
6. Is your future changeable?


David U said...

Chris, I believe you are dead on accurate in your assesment of missional churches and maintenance churches. I also believe that God is a God of today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Mark Moore recalls the words of the prophet who cried to the children of Israel: "Remember not the former things". Guess what those things were.......GOOD THINGS!!! But, they were in the PAST.

Great Post! Thanks bro!

Thurman8er said...

Hi, Chris.

I read your posts over on Brandon's blog sometimes and came over to check yours out today.

I think you are SO spot on about this. On three separate occasions recently, people at my CofC have told me of their concerns with neglecting our past. Their fear is that we are so concerned with the "new" direction the church is going that we are forgetting all about how we got where we are.

I've felt fairly alone in saying, "Good!" There's a lot in there I'd like to forget. I know (at least, I hope) that they aren't saying we should dwell on the past. And I certainly want to recognize and respect the people who went before us. But I think "respecting the past" is often code for "keeping tradition alive." And...bah. Who needs it?

Keep up the excellent thoughts, bro. They are appreciated.


Keith Brenton said...

Madeleine L'Engle would agree with you, and so do I. And not because of infinitely regressive causality, either.

But why is this post on your home page twice?

But why is this post on your home page twice?

Keith Brenton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fajita said...

I removed not only my extra post, but Keith's extra comment. I kind of got the feeling he was making fun of me, so I used my vast power as blog administrator to erase his second comment forever. Literally, blogspot asked me if I wanted to remove the comment "forever." Although that was quite a commitment, I chose to go with it.

jettybetty said...

I referenced your blog on mine today. (I hope you don't mind?) I really want to thank you--I have learned so much from reading your blog! Blessings! JB

jettybetty said...

I referenced your blog on mine today. (I hope you don't mind?) I really want to thank you--I have learned so much from reading your blog! Blessings! JB