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Towards a “U-turn” by the Churches: How (Not) to Possibilise the Future

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AbstractHow can churches (re)connect with people’s spiritual needs? The article starts by positing that churches have two focuses: the first is the moral and spiritual growth of persons, the second is social forms of life in which their moral and spiritual identity finds its goal and meaning. Next we examine how our social life forms are challenged by complexity and change in our society. This late modern situation is analysed with reference to two processes: globalisation (Zürn) and acceleration (Hartmut Rosa). Organisations like churches need to handle this complex, constantly changing new reality by making decisions based on an emerging future (Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer). This orientation to the future shifts the core questions facing the churches from what and how we are to who we are. Who are we as church leaders? As individual believers? As a community of believers? For answers to these questions we must look to the future, not the past. That is the theological challenge of a “U-turn” by the churches. How can leaders of organisations, more specifically churches, be open to the future that is waiting emerge? They have to exercise their human capacity to make the future possible. We then look at this capacity in the framework of the relationship between God and humans. I cite Nicholas of Cusa’s idea of God as the ground of possibility (the What-can-be) in the human capacity of possibilising (the What-can-be). This conceptual clarification enables me to consider how churches (and their leaders) should (not) set about possibilising1 the future of social life forms.

Affiliations: 1: UNISA Pretoria South Africa Radboud University Nijmegen the Netherlands, Email:


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