Jon Tyson addressed our Future Traveler group in Manhattan last week (see prior post). Jon came from Australia as a missionary to the US. He settled in New York City where he began Trinity Grace Church. They are doing a remarkable job exegeting culture and connecting people with Jesus in their context. And they have a unique model for incarnationally connecting the kingdom of God to their communities. But there was a comment he made that has stood out in my mind for several days:
Why do we start something thinking it needs to last forever?
The church was the context of the conversation so my initial reaction was, “Of course it should last forever.” Then I was thinking about it, what church ever has? Certainly the Church as established by Jesus is meant to and will last forever. But it seems individual expressions of the Church were not meant to last forever. Even the first century expressions of the Church are gone.
So why do we start expressions of the Church thinking it needs to last forever? Perhaps more importantly, are we wasting time, effort and dollars on expressions that have really outlived their usefulness? The average lifespan of a church is approximately 40 years – about a generation. A church begins with a compelling story and then it employs methods and programs to facilitate the story. But, at some point, it becomes more about the methods and programs than it does the story. Think about where your church is on the Sigmoid Curve pictured above. Do you need a fresh, compelling story? Or, is it time to marshal the remaining resources and begin a new expression of the Church?