Ed Marcelle

The Future of the Church

The Future of the Church: A Promised Perfection In Which We Participate

The future of the Church is secured in Christ. Jesus has said He would build His Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. When God makes promises, we don’t wait in a world of anxious wonder. There is no question what He has said will come to pass. To say it another way, with God, promise is prophecy. It has the certainty of “Thus saith the Lord.”

Like many promises of God, we become the instruments of His work. To be called the Body of Christ is more than just an expression. Under His headship we move with a coordination of purpose to do the work to live the mission of God. The future of the Church is certain; it is perfect. There is, like in the life of every individual saint of God, a process that precedes perfection.

The future of the church takes on many forms. It will be seen in the life of the individual Christian pilgrim seeking to know Jesus more, love Jesus more, and serve Jesus with increasing devotion and effectiveness. It is not only in the personal, but the global. Men and women will travel the world to further the mission. They will carry the message of their Lord and serve to show the love of Christ. The Church will be the mouth and hands of Christ all over the world. Somewhere between the personal and global is the place where the local church serves the future.

As we face the New Year, let me suggest three ways we are part of the future of the Church here at Terra Nova Church.

We Continue to Develop the Connected Life of The Church

Terra Nova Church is a family of churches that exists to make more and better disciples of Jesus. This family of three churches gathers in an old shirt collar factory in Troy, NY, in the building of the oldest church in Saratoga, NY, and in homes in North Adams, MA. We gather as the church on Sundays and scatter to serve one another in our small groups that we call Tribes in Troy, Saratoga, and North Adams. We are learning how this family of churches can work together to share from one another, serve one another and send more people to start or plant more churches.

The Church has always been one. The Bible is clear. Jesus died and rose for one Church as a whole. He is the head of one Church. Though the church exists in many forms locally, with many unique styles, it is unified in Christ. We do not have to create that unity, but we do need to discover it.

That means we are to be a part of our local congregation. Be an active part. If the church is a family, live like it. Take on family obligations and rejoice in family blessings. It is your primary church focus. You many not realize it, but it does help the greater Church when you are a healthy part of the local church.

For certain, speak well of, pray for, and work where we can to further the mission of Christ with other local churches. The greatest role is still in your local church home.

We Build the Future of the Church For the Next Generation

It is easy to be caught only in our day to day. It is easy to ignore the inevitability of the future in exchange for the busy demands and urgent calls of the moment. “Where did the time go?” we bemoan when we recognize how our day gave way to the future.

Part of our day-to-day, part of serving and shaping the church of the future, is serving the children in the church. God blessed mankind with a near godlike ability to create life. From moments of intimacy comes an enduring mark of the future – children. The Bible tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord and a blessing.

The shaping of the Church of the future happens daily as mothers and fathers disciple their children in their own homes. The church comes alongside families as we serve children in the church. At Terra Nova, “Terra Kids” and “Terra Youth” are the key places for that to happen.

{As the Senior Pastor of the Terra Nova Network, I want to thank all the children’s church teachers and volunteers who make this happen. Families, be sure to thank those teachers and volunteers who serve to shape the future of the church. Please prayerfully considering making that critical step forward in serving this ongoing ministry with enduring and impactful fruit.}

We Extend the Life of the Church to America’s Mission Field

The landscape of the future is a horizon filled with the delicate structure of vision – the gossamer fabric of dreams. In my life, I have been a part of serving a key role in three church plants and have been blessed to assess and coach dozens of other church leaders starting churches. Places once occupied with hope in the Lord, prayer, and the commitment of men and women to build those churches, now have a life of their own.

Nowhere is church planting more important than in the Northeast. We are America’s mission field. Once the place of Puritan pulpits that breathed the life of the Gospel to towns and cities, the Northeast is filled with churches that are empty structures. Once vibrant churches are museum pieces, monuments of crumbling monoliths. We live in the nations most un-churched, biblically unaware, post-Christian region. We are America’s mission field.

From the very start of Terra Nova Church, we have put aside 10% of our funds for church planting. We lived with the future church in mind. (Trust me, I could have found ways to spend that money in the church.) Some years of my ministry life have been without salary. It was the sacrifice of self for the future. I believed, and still do, that church planting will help to shape and change the future. It means we must continue to surface, prepare, and network leaders and churches.

In the year ahead we will welcome our first resident into the Terra Nova Residency program. The Residency is designed to grow church leaders to start and serve churches in the Northeast. Stay tuned for more information on that. Yet as you are caring for your daily needs and giving toward the local church, please pray about a special or regular gift to the Residency.

The future of the church, unseen and prayed for, The Lord will trace into reality through His hands, feet, and heart. He will use His body. He will use us. May He bless us in 2017 to be servants of the Church today and the Church of the future.

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