Leader to Leader, Ministry

What is the Future of the Church?

March 10, 2014 | Posted by Randy Raasch

Randy Raasch has served as pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church of Cedarburg, Wisconsin for 24 years. Here he shares with LCEF blog readers about leadership within the church:

It was a great question. Earlier this month I was a speaker at a men’s retreat in Wisconsin. During a question and answer session I was asked, “What is the future of the Church?” It really is a great question. I knew exactly where the question was going. We live in a culture that is becoming less connected to the Church and more anti-Church. Our postmodern world embraces relative truth, where people can determine for themselves what is good, right and proper. This means the Church is viewed as being too rigid—even intolerant.

So what is the future of the Church?

I began answering by explaining that the responsibility of the Church, in any culture and at any time, is to remain faithful to the truth. It is not the Church’s place to bend to the culture, but to live out the truths of God’s Word. The manner in which the Christian Church lives out the Law and the Gospel is important. In the midst of a culture that is conflicted in its morals and critical in its approach to the Church, it is tempting for the Church to simply proclaim society to be wrong and hell-bound. A Scriptural approach is to engage people-groups by listening with the goal of understanding where the culture stands and why it embraces its current line of thinking. Jesus ate and drank with both “sinners” and Pharisees. He listened to both. Jesus no doubt heard the one group express the joys they found in reckless living. From the other He heard about strict regulations for self-righteous living. Both were off track, but He listened. He didn’t announce approval of either. He didn’t bend His ministry to fit either. He brought the message of true life to both. Some embraced Jesus, others did not. Zaccheaus believed, while the rich ruler went away sad. Nicodemus believed, while Caiaphas called for His execution.

With this in mind, “What is the future of the Church?” I see:

  • … Christian Churches, faithful to the Word of God, being drawn together to influence the culture;
  • … a Christian Church that stands and delivers when our culture comes to realize the need for absolute truth;
  • …a Christian Church that will not simply announce what we denounce, but trumpet what we tout to be the healthier way of life;
  • …a Christian Church that grows stronger in the face of rejection and persecution. This has been the history of our Church. We grow fastest and become strongest in times of challenge.

I see the future of the Church as vibrant in the face of persecution, relevant in the midst of confusion and loving even while being hated. I see this in the Church, because I see this in Jesus.

Randy Raasch
Randy Raasch has served as pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church of Cedarburg, Wisconsin for 27 years. He has been an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia University Wisconsin since 1990. His personal mission statement is, I serve God by serving others.