jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

do we really have a future?

Who am I?

I am a 6th generation member and ordained minister in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Both of my parents are Church of God ministers, each growing up as children of lifelong Church of God ministers. I grew up in my denomination’s flagship church (North Cleveland Church of God), received a bachelor’s degree in Bible & Theology from my denomination’s flagship university (Lee University), and received a Master’s of Divinity from my denomination’s flagship seminary (Church of God Theological Seminary). I have served my denomination in various capacities in churches and institutions around the USA and abroad. While I am proud of my heritage and my affiliation these are not things that I consider worth bragging about. I mention these things here because I anticipate that the title of this blog could (understandably so) lead to questions about my motivations. My motivation grows out of the simple recognition that I, like many others, have much to gain and/or lose by raising and/or not raising questions about the current status of our future.

What is up with the title?

The title of this blog, “The Church of God Has No Future,” is neither a nihilistic assessment of a disillusioned minister, nor a prophetic judgment from a seer. It is simply a recognition that as a movement we seem to be ignoring the future at a time when unprecedented global changes are converging and changing the world’s landscape in rapid, unimaginable ways. This recognition, which cannot be proven quantitatively or qualitatively, grows out of personal observations and conversations. Unfortunately, it seems that at this time there are few (if any) platforms for Church of God ministers and members to openly and honestly discuss current trends, the destinations at which they will likely end, and the alternative futures that we might dare to envision. Until we find the audacity to envision ourselves in different futures our future, quite simply, does not presently exist.

As long as our future remains undiscussed it remains unidentified–nothing more than a question mark. Certainly, the future lies in the hands of the Lord. We know how the ultimate story ultimately ends. In this sense, our future is certain and safe. Still, as a movement we must find the courage to give our children a vision for the future, the means by which they will be able to find the strength to move with certainty into uncertain times. For the first two weeks of this blog I chose to remain “anonymous.” It was not because I was embarrassed or afraid for someone who might read this to know who I am, but rather because it truly reflected the current state of our future. I thought it was a somewhat clever way to make a point, but after only a couple of weeks I had changed my thoughts and decided to “go public.” I’m not sure if “anonymous” and “blog” really go together.

Nonetheless, the present lack of a future begs the questions: Do we know who we are? Do we know who we will become? Are we certain that we want to be who we are presently becoming? Hopefully this blog can be one small voice in calling for a vision from the Church of God that clearly identifies ourselves in the future. A 21st century vision for the future (at least in the mind of this minister/member/blogger) will not come from the top down but from the bottom up, and infuse in all of us hope for the future, as well as our identity in that future. It is the hope that the Lord would give us a name which shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:5). So, lets start talking!

Jonathan

10 comments on “do we really have a future?

  1. Louis Morgan
    March 5, 2008

    I really appreciate your thoughts and willingness to highlight some important issues facing us. I look forward to reading more.

  2. The Futurist
    March 6, 2008

    Thanks Louis. I loved your highlights from your day with Leonard Sweet.

    TF

  3. m.d. mcmullin
    March 8, 2008

    it will be interesting to see where this goes.

    i am also curious to see if this anonyminity serves you as well as you would like.

  4. Jonathan Stone
    March 9, 2008

    McMullin, it’s funny you mentioned the anonymity. I have been wrestling over that for the short two weeks since I started the blog. I finally became convinced that it wasn’t going to work–that people wouldn’t be interested in engaging an anonymous blog. So, I went and changed my profile. I then immediately came across your comment and panicked. I wondered if I had jumped the gun and should have let the “experiment of anonymity” play out longer. Oh well. Anyway, thanks for commenting. I too am interested in seeing if this goes anywhere.

  5. The Boyds
    March 9, 2008

    Jonathan,

    I thought I was controversial! I am glad that you are addressing these important issues. It seems many in Cleveland live in some kind of alternate reality. Keep pressing for the Kingdom!

    God Bless!
    Matt Boyd

  6. m.d. mcmullin
    March 9, 2008

    I think your “coming out of the closet” may serve for more open discussion.

    are you in cleveland now?

  7. Jonathan Stone
    March 9, 2008

    Hey Matt! Well, you know my heart, that what appears to be controversial is actually an attempt to evoke dialogue. Still, I have been known on occasion to step right into a big pile of controversy! Blessings Brother. Thanks for checking in.

  8. Jonathan Stone
    March 9, 2008

    Yeah Mike, it feels good to be out of the closet…hmmm…you know what I mean. And yes we are in Cleveland now. Aren’t you scheduled to land here soon?

  9. Johnny Taylor
    March 16, 2008

    You said,”as a movement we must find the courage to give our children a vision for the future,

    I have a fear based on spending much time with a few of “our children” that they have already looked passed whatever vision for the future the cog might have.

    I do not believe all is lost as of yet. That is to say, as long as there are people, young and old, willing to converse together in this manner.

  10. Jonathan Stone
    March 16, 2008

    Johnny, very well said. That’s EXACTLY what I hope this blog can encourage in some small way–space for people, young and old, to converse in this way and about these things. I believe there are others out there that share the fear that “our children have already looked past the vision for the future offered by the cog.” Thanks for sharing!

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This entry was posted on March 1, 2008 by in general.
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