Observation # 6: The church will not recover its nerve, its creativity, or its authenticity simply by instituting fancy new gimmicks, implementing flashy programs, trying to get more organized, or working harder. The way forward is through the development of meaningful spiritual practices, a renewal of corporate spirituality, and a profound shift of consciousness in the way we do church. These deep inner changes will only be achieved by creating space for an awareness of the presence and action of God to emerge in our midst.
Cynthia's response: Amen, brother! More than seventy years ago the Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly penned these prophetic words:
“Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. The ‘bright shoots of everlastingness’ can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the light and are willing to pass out of first stages into maturer religious living. Only if this is possible can the light from the inner sanctuary of the soul be a workaday light for the marketplace, a guide for perplexed feet, a recreator of culture-patterns for the human race.” (The Light Within, p. 31).
If that Light within truly exists, there is only one authentic way to find it, and it is just as you have named it: “creating space for an awareness of the presence and action of God to emerge in our midst.” If we don’t trust that the light actually exists, if we resign ourselves to being no more than the caretakers of a “receding memory of the Divine Touch,” then we might as well close up shop right now and go join the crew at the Sunday market and soccer practice. At least there’s fresh air!