It’s an interesting question. We all know the statistics on the state of the Church. Attendance is down. Giving is down. Churches are trying to find ways to attract younger adults as the next generation of leaders. In many a Sunday sermon, we hear of the potential of the “resurrection” of the Church as a response to fears of the “death of the church as we know it” To be clear, there is real hope and opportunity for a reimagining of what church looks like and the way we will engage with the world in the future. While the idea of a revitalized and reimagined Church is exciting, the idea of correlating the bodily resurrection of Christ with the rebirth of the Church in its original form has some challenges. The wrinkle in the comparison is that in the Resurrection, Jesus did not come back in the same bodily form. When Jesus rose from the grave and walked on the road to Emmaus, we are told that his disciples did not recognize him in his bodily form. The essence of who he was remained the same, but he did not appear the way that he always had to the world around him.

Yes, we are told in Scripture that Jesus died on the cross and was buried for 3 days before his resurrection. The old hymn sung at Easter proclaims “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.” In our minds’ eyes, we may often conflate the idea that Christ’s resurrection is our goal as a church: Our church will be resurrected and come to life in the exact form that we have always embodied. The same worship service, the same attendance and budget, the same number of buildings. You know the drill. But just as Jesus’s resurrection made his body look different, (and even unrecognizable!), the church of today must look different in its “resurrected form”. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus’s nature did not change, just as the heart of what we do as Church (with a capital C) must not change. We are called to be salt and light in the world. We are called to feed those who are hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and work to alleviate the conditions and systems for those who experience poverty. Most of all, we are called to love in all forms. That is the “Church’s One Foundation” and the essence of who we are. That is the core of our identity and our call as a community of faith.

In truth, our “resurrection” as a Church is dependent on our ability to hold on to the foundations of our faith and let go of the things that no longer serve us–the things that are not important. That may mean buildings and assets or the expectations that we have for Sunday morning. It may mean focusing less on empty pews in a building and more on lives that are suffering in our own neighborhoods. And it most certainly means that the Church is not about what we get from worship. It’s about what we give to the world. Our legacy will be about the reframing of what it means to be church, rather than the “resurrection” of an idealized vision of what we were before. And integral to that legacy is an intentional plan for the things we may leave behind: buildings, money, programs, and the tangible things that we often thought defined us as “Church”.

As a Church, what would our own “resurrection” look like? And what legacy will we leave behind?