Here are some of my ideas about what I think church should be and look like.
No hierarchy of leadership. Everybody can teach and preach if so called.
People are taught how to find and express their gifts of the Spirit.
People learn that they don’t have to work for a non-profit to be serving God. All forms of work can be valid paths.
No infant baptism. There can be a ceremony to accept children into the church – to say that the parents will raise them as Christians and want the support and help of the church. But baptism is too important for it to be done for you. You need to make that conscious decision yourself.
No peer pressure to get baptized or confirmed – it is open to all at any time. It isn’t just done once a year with all people over a certain age.
Full immersion baptism.
Communion every week.
Communion table is in the center – not at the end. No sense of distance – that it is special and you aren’t.
Money is not handled during the service. Parishioners give their tithes online or mail it to the church.
The service isn’t so weird that strangers can’t figure it out.
The service isn’t so boring that old-timers get tired of it.
The service changes with the seasons – liturgical, colors.
All major events are noted, and some smaller events. Note how some Hindu festivals are done – some are every three years, some 7, some 11. They aren’t all crammed into one year. If some Christian services are like this they will feel even more special.
Prayer is held every day in the sanctuary.
I really like the idea of incense, bells, and chanting at some services, not all. (otherwise strangers will feel excluded)
Money isn’t spent on expensive stained glass and vestments. It is spent on the poor.
Prevention rather than cure – time, energy spent on trying to prevent poverty, abuse.
A center for community education to raise people up. How to be good parents and good people.
Ministry is service to all, not just the “chosen” and not just those in church.
Honest facing of our corporate existence – health, both mental and physical. Birth, death, sex – no shame in the body.
Estate planning – and how to handle being a widow or a widower. Preparation for what it means to be married, or to be a parent. These major life events shouldn’t be a surprise or learned about after the fact.
Ignorance equals fear. There needs to be an emphasis on education.
Exercise and nutrition should be taught. How to keep the body healthy. Stress reduction such as yoga. Different ways of how to express yourself should be taught – art, music.
We are all one – now. Christ makes us so. “Full Communion” is in your head. It doesn’t require a committee or a vote from bishops.
Equal opportunity for membership – you show up on a regular basis, you are a member. You don’t have to be confirmed. Plenty of folks get confirmed and quit showing up, but are still counted as members.
The church gauges its success on the amount of people it has helped, not on the amount of money it has raised to support itself.
No bureaucracy – all can vote on everything. No vestry. This is more like the New England town hall idea of voting.
All are welcome to take communion. If Jesus calls you to the table, who are we to set limits or rules? Baptism is not required. Also, it is not for us to judge sinfulness or contrition. We cannot refuse communion.
No forcing people to get information in ways they aren’t familiar with. News and information should be online AND in print form.
Equal access for disabilities. Large print. Hearing devices. Sign language. Wheelchair accessible.
Think of how you are going to get a casket in and out before you design the place. No steps or tight turns.
Other religions are studied and respected. That which is found to be true and helpful is incorporated in the worship experience.
The service isn’t about the minister – it is about focus on God. These mega-churches are personality-driven, not Spirit-driven.
Everybody has to do something. No passive parishioners.
It is essential that nobody thinks they are better than any other denomination. To think that one denomination has a lock on it is to cause division. We are about the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” “Catholic” in this sense means “universal”.
Look around – if there are people from all walks of life and all races, you are doing it right. That is what Heaven looks like.
All are welcome. If there are leaders, then they need to be an equal representation. Not all white, heterosexual men.
Nobody is refused membership because of something they have no control over (gender, race, sexual orientation.)
All members are expected to participate. The same 10 percent don’t do all the work.