Building a Future Church for the Future

by Rev Hannes Schaefer

(Published in News First, October 2004 - monthly church newsletter, Warragul Uniting Church)


A few days ago, I was talking to some one and the conversation came to the point of building a church for the future. We were throwing ideas around from various angles and had a really good discussion about what the community expected of the church in future years.

It was very interesting. I thought it would be good to put those ideas on paper as the Warragul Uniting Church is at present looking at the issue of building a new church which will have to incorporate the future needs of the Warragul community. It will be a super modern building with the latest technology available, having caught up with the rest of the business and other communities, and so does not have to be embarrassed any more as being seen as out of touch with the rest of the world!!.

As soon as you enter the building, a laser will examine your spiritual needs and will record this with your pin number. After you have entered the building, you will then take your membership card and record your attendance with the computer in the foyer. As your spiritual needs have already been recorded, you can now choose from various categories the hymns, prayers and an appropriate sermon for the day, but thatís not all, as automatically your offering will be recorded from your bank account and your seat allocation is also given at the same time. Arriving at your allocated seat, your headphones will already be switched on and waiting for your use. All recordings will start at the same time; will go for an hour so that all worshipping people can leave together. All the news will be delivered during the service on a big screen in one part of the building, while the up coming events will be shown in the other part of the building, to make confusion impossible.

For the Sunday School, the children will have a computer room set up, where they will have the opportunity to learn the scriptures through games of various forms. The women at the well or the healing of the blind will be illustrated in such a way, that the young people can understand it and can make sense of them.

Prayer meetings will be held by broadband, bible studies are also held in this way, including elders meetings and church council meetings.

Each church will have a library of recorded church services for all needs and occasions, so that a certain standard is kept, but also to find out what the community is in need of or has requested.

As the church caters now for the individual, it can be advertised in the local paper as such, and with special recordings, can also be mentioned on local radio .

This type of church will create separate and individual believers, who will have a faith life in isolation.

Where will the growth come from, with whom can we and will we share our faith?

Looking at those issues now, we will become aware that we have a responsibility to make sure that under no circumstances will technology override the need for community. The church is there to enhance the growth of community and to build on community. In other words the most important aspect of the church is the individual as such and the community in particular. It is not of importance to see eye to eye in regard to faith and belief, but the worth and value of the person. And it is each persons responsibility to nurture and care for each other, as this is the mission Jesus Christ has entrusted to each one of us. Through our baptism we all have accepted our call to ministry. And this is what church is all about.

With the new church in Warragul there is an opportunity to prepare and set up a system that will help to invite, care and nurture people of all ages and backgrounds, to feel that they are wanted, accepted and cared for. But also that they can feel free to be themselves and find inner peace.

The future church, anywhere, will have a challenge to gather those in who feel that their work community, social community and perhaps their families, donít value, care and nurture them.

May we here in this community take this challenge and prepare for the future and with the future in mind build a church that is challenging, accepting, caring and brings itís ministry to the fullest.