The video — titled “What If” — asks penetrating questions, such as:
What if “church” wasn’t just a place we go but something we do?
What if “church” was the way church was in the beginning — outbound, unbound, active?
What if “church” looked at itself with seekers’ eyes, recognizing that even the smallest step through one of our doors is an act of courage, a moment of vulnerability?
What if “church” was more of an out-of-church experience, an opportunity to prove what we say we believe with our lives?
“What If” is a top-notch piece of work, with effective visuals, music, scripting, narration, and editing.
Unfortunately, the script never mentions Jesus Christ — a rather startling omission, especially in a piece targeted to people who are already church members and, one would suppose, disciples of Jesus. (The video prefers to focus on amorphous concepts such as “journey,” “belief,” and “discovery.”) Nor does “What If” acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering the church to be what God intends.
Still, the video is inspirational — and local church leaders can easily follow a showing of the video with additional questions, such as: “What if we stopped focusing on ourselves and started asking God to show us kingdom opportunities — opportunities to move people toward a relationship with Jesus Christ?”
It is worth noting that “What If” makes a subtle yet significant change in the UMC’s eight-year-old “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” advertising slogan. The video’s tag line says, “Together we can open hearts, open minds, open doors.”
The three added words yield a much different meaning. “Together we can…” refocuses the slogan on mission, rather than on how (some) United Methodists perceive of themselves or want to be perceived. This is a welcome change.
Use the audio player below to listen to an 8-and-half minute presentation about Rethink Church from Larry Hollon of United Methodist Communications (recorded at the 2009 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference).
“What if” reminds me of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” Both are stirring but impractical.
“What if” is a call to social activism by anybody. The Humanists, Gnostics, witches, Hindus and Buddhists could adopt this video just as effectively. Sincere members of these other religions wouldn’t even bother with a church.
Our uniqueness and our particular effectiveness is found in transformation through Christ. Only through Christ would we do this alone in the face of persecution. Only through Christ can we also offer them supernatural answers. Only through Christ can we offer transformation of character away from addictions, violence, dishonesty and evil.
We have sinned and done wrong. All this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not given attention to your truth. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O LORD, forgive!