The Future of the Church: Addressing Issues & Embracing Hope : Nancy Beach & Samantha Beach Kiley
Why are so many of the changes that the Church is currently facing so dramatically different from many of the changes that we navigated over the past few decades? And, as we recognize these changes, why is it so important to address them honestly when it comes to the future of the Church? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kiley. Nancy helped found and served at Willow Creek Church for many years, and is now a teaching pastor at Soul City Church in Chicago. Samantha serves as a creative arts pastor, and together, they wrote a new book entitled, Next Sunday: an Honest Dialogue about the Future of the Church. This is a multi-generational conversation with two people who have a heart for Jesus and a heart for His Church.
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Additional Resource Links
Next Sunday: an Honest Dialogue about the Future of the Church – Nancy and Samantha explore what kind of church might emerge on the other side of the many changes we are currently experiencing
Connect with Nancy Beach – www.NancyLBeach.com
Connect with Samantha Beach Kiley – www.SamanthaBeach.work
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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- Every generation assesses the Church and identifies some things that are not working as effectively for their generation. This is natural and a part of the dynamic reality of Christ’s Church.
- As ministry leaders, we must be careful not to overreact and toss everything aside that we perceive is not currently working. We must be prayerful and discerning as we navigate change in our churches.
- There is a mass migration away from the Church, especially among younger generations
- There is rising skepticism regarding if the Church can be trusted. We must accept this reality and recognize that we are at fault for some of this skepticism. The Church has excluded people and has done some destructive things which has contributed to this loss of trust.
- Before rushing ahead to try and fix pivotal issues, like racism, etc, we must acknowledge, confess, and lament the ways we have contributed to harm. Otherwise we run the risk of appearing tone deaf, increasing people’s lack of trust.
- “Sometimes we’re quick to leap towards the next stage of repair without doing the due diligence of confession and lament and all that comes before that.” – Samantha Beach Kiley
- Every pastor and ministry leader is capable of blind spots. We all have ways in which we don’t really see our unhealthy self.
- Pastors and ministry leaders must always be growing in self-awareness, allowing some trusted people, whether that be a coach, a counselor or a trusted friend, to hold up a mirror and help us see what we can’t seem to see ourselves.
- Every church should strive to be a community where the closer someone gets to the center of it, the more love of Jesus they would find
- The good news is that every church can grow in its capacity to love like Jesus
- Building a healthy team ministry culture has “really high highs and some really low lows, but it’s worth it. It’s the adventure of saying we’re going to build a genuine community together that then does ministry in Jesus’ name together.” – Nancy Beach
- “It’s not surprising when there’s dysfunction in a church… we are all sinners, we are all bringing our junk to this table” – Nancy Beach
- No matter what size your church, every church can breed an unhealthy celebrity culture for the pastors and ministry leaders, where we begin to think we are more important than we really are. This is dangerous, so we need to be intentional about being self-aware.
- If we, as pastors and ministry leaders, are willing to be honest and do the hard, confessing, prayerful work, there is great hope for the impact of the Church here in America
- The Church is imperfect and has made a lot of mistakes, but the Church is the place of hope, and is God’s redemptive plan for humankind
- There is nothing like the Church as a force of restoration in local communities, in the world at large, and in people’s hearts. People are searching for this, and it is unlike anything else our modern world has to offer.
Questions for Reflection
- As you look at the church, where do you see opportunities at being more effective in ministering to today’s world
- How is our church engaging in these opportunities?
- Why do you think the Church is struggling to reach younger generations?
- How has the Church contributed to the growing skepticism and mistrust people have for the Church that we see today?
- As pastors and ministry leaders, we tend to want to help bring wholeness and healing to broken situations. How can we be sure we are not leaping ahead too quickly to “repair” issues? Why is it important to slow down?
- Are you growing in self-awareness? What have you learned recently about yourself?
- Do you have a coach, counselor, or trusted friend who is helping you see those things about yourself that you overlook?
- As people get closer to the center of your church, do they find more and more of Jesus’ love? What does that look like, or what would you like that to look like, at your church?
- How are we being intentional about building a healthy team ministry culture? What could we be doing better to help develop this kind of a culture?
- Are we doing anything that might be contributing to an unhealthy celebrity culture for our pastors and/or ministry leaders? If so, what will we do to combat this?
- How can we help people experience a genuine community that leads to the restoration and transformation of our cities, our world, and our lives?
- What can we begin doing this week to help our church become a place of great hope?
Why are so many of the changes that the church is currently facing so dramatically different than many of the changes that we navigated over the past few decades?
And as we recognize these changes, why is it so important to address them honestly when it comes to the future of the church? In this conversation, I’m joined by Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kiley. Nancy helped found and served at Willow Creek Church for many years, and is now a teaching pastor at Soul City Church in Chicago. Samantha serves as a creative arts pastor, and together they wrote a new book entitled, Next Sunday: an Honest Dialogue about the Future of the Church. This is a multi-generational conversation with two people who have a heart for Jesus and a heart for His Church. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host Jason Daye. And every single week we dive into a conversation that’s designed to help encourage and equip pastors just like you to embrace healthy, well-balanced leadership in both life and ministry. And we’re blessed to be a part of the PastorServe Network. And you can dig more deeply into this conversation today by going to PastorServe.org/network. And there you’ll find key insights, you’ll find some questions for reflection for you and your team, all based on this topic that we’re going to dive into. Now. If you’re joining us on YouTube. Hello, give us a thumbs up, we’d love for you to drop a comment below. Let us know the church you represent. We love getting to know and praying for our audience. If you are joining us on your favorite podcast platform, be sure to subscribe and follow so you don’t miss out on any of these amazing conversations. And today, we have another amazing conversation. I’m blessed to be joined by Samantha Beach Kylie and Nancy Beach, and like to welcome them to the show now. So Samantha and Nancy, welcome to FrontStage BackStage.
Samantha Beach Kiley
Thanks for having us. Great to be here.
Yeah, now I mentioned, I’m super excited about you guys being here. Very excited. But I think to begin really want to sort of set the context for our audience a bit. And so I’m going to ask first you, Nancy, and then you Samantha, if you can just share kind of a quick snapshot of kind of who you are, especially in relation to one another, right? Because that’s unique, right? And then your connection to local church ministry and then where you find yourselves now, you know, what are you doing now? I think that will kind of help set the stage for this conversation. So Nancy?
Well, I am the mother of Samantha. She’s the older of two daughters. I have two daughters, and I am married to Warren. We’ve been married for 41 years now. And I have invested my adult life, basically in the local church. I had the privilege of helping to start a church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Willow Creek, many years ago, and served there for a long time, mostly in the area of the arts, worship arts ministry, and also became a teaching pastor there. We raised our two girls in that church. And these days, I resigned from there in 2010, and I became a leadership coach, eventually. I love to coach both individuals and teams and help them to flourish in life and ministry. And I’m on the teaching team at Soul City Church, which is in the West Loop downtown Chicago these days and teach there periodically. Yeah, so that’s me.
Excellent. Thank you, Nancy. How about you, Samantha?
Samantha Beach Kiley
Well, I am currently in Austin, Texas, where I’m part of a church here as the creative director. I’m married to a man named Will, we’ve been married for four years, and we just welcomed our first daughter Eloise this past Christmas. And I, as my mom said, grew up in the church and really found my love for the arts there and then went and spent a decade pursuing that in the secular world and doing theater and have found myself in this strange pull that I couldn’t have predicted back to ministry. And so I’ve sort of taken some baby steps as a part time role. And I’m actually about to begin a new full-time role as an associate pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina. So I have kind of moved away from and now I’m finding myself moving back towards the local church.
Very exciting, very exciting and welcome again to both of you, as I said, Really looking forward to conversation because, Nancy and Samantha, it’s cool because you have a set of shared experiences when it comes to church because, you know, you grew up together. You know, Samantha, you were raised in the church where Nancy was serving. And so you have this shared experience. And yet you’re obviously two distinct people, right? You’re coming at life from two different perspectives. And so I think there’s just something really cool and unique about having this conversation and hearing from the both of you, especially when we’re looking at what you write about in your new book, Next Sunday. And the subtitle of the book is ‘an honest dialogue about the future of the church.’ And so anytime we’re talking about the future of the church, it’s always good to kind of look back at the history. And when we look at church history, we see that the church is always in a process of development. And the Bride of Christ is not static, right? The church is active. The church is on mission, the church is engaging culture, the church is dynamic. And sometimes as the church is developing, sometimes the changes that take place are subtle. Sometimes the changes are pretty dramatic, right? And you know, Luther nailing the 95 theses, you know, on the church door. So, sometimes the changes are healthy. Sometimes as we look back across history, you know, sometimes some of the changes are unhealthy. Right? And so, Samantha, I’d love to begin with you. As you are looking at the changes taking place in the Church today, how would you kind of generally describe, you know, the changes that are taking place?
Samantha Beach Kiley
Great, and big question. Um, you know, I’m grateful that I see churches wrestling with some questions that we’ve maybe looked away from for I think too long. And I think part of this is maybe my generation growing up with the internet and being exposed to people’s experiences that weren’t like ours, maybe much sooner than people, people in previous generations. And so there are things that we can’t look away from. And I’m encouraged that I see churches being brave about conversations about race, conversations about LGBTQ folks, conversations about folks that we have pushed away through the church’s history of conquest and things like that. So I think those changes are positive, I think those are important conversations we absolutely need to be having. And then I see some changes that, and I think this is what we try to capture in our book, some things that I actually grew up with and love that I see the church moving away from. And an example of that is, I grew up with in a church that really valued the arts. And that’s where I found my passion for that arena and discovered how the arts can move us to experience God’s beauty in new ways and to ask hard questions. And, and so I think there’s also a shift happening, and again, this is in broad strokes, but in the churches I’ve been a part of, I see a shift away from a high level of production towards a towards a more stripped down approach. And I think I sense why that’s happening, but there’s a part of me that misses what the arts can do in a worship experience. So those are just two examples of things I see shifting.
Yeah, yeah, no, no, that’s good. And I love kind of how you phrase that, how you dig in a little bit on the fact that there are some changes that are important for us to kind of be dialoguing about, right. They’re the changes that, definitely the world in which we live, and again, going back to the fact that, you know, Spirit of God is alive and well within his Church. So we need to be engaging with culture. But then there are some things that and I think this is for every generation, right, I think we all have some things that we see maybe waning, maybe, you know, starting to slip away, that we, you know, appreciated. And so I think that’s important. And it’s helpful, as we’re thinking through what the future of the church is becoming, because it’s one of those things where we can become highly critical, right, and just be very dismissive of things. But we want to be able to hold on to some of the the beauty that we see in the church. So I certainly appreciate that. Now, Nancy, from someone who’s not only seen, but has also very much championed a lot of change in the church over the last several decades of your work at Willow Creek. You know, Willow Creek, looked at doing church in a very different way than most churches were doing church. And so, you had the opportunity to live in a lot of the excitement of these, you know, fresh changes and fresh expressions of what does it mean to really be the church? How do you sense kind of the pulse of the church or the climate of the church right now? And really, like in what ways is the kind of feeling of change in the church today, similar to what you’ve experienced in the past, and in what ways are some of the changes different from what you’ve experienced?
Well, first of all, I’m in like the heart of the baby boom generation, I’m dead set in the middle of that. And when we were in our 20s, and trying to, you know, revolutionize church, as we knew it, that was very exhilarating. And I remember thinking that, very arrogantly, that our parents didn’t know anything about church, you know, we knew how to make it better. And then, when I was in my early 40s, or so, I write about this in in the book, the next generation, which was Generation X at the time, who were then in their 20s, came to us and basically said, you know, they tried to say it nicely, but they said, kind of the way you’re doing church isn’t really working for us, and listed all these things that they thought were so unique to their generation, and different, you know, different from us. And I sort of pasted a smile on my face and tried to look very receptive to all of this, while feeling this rising defensiveness the whole time. What I find so interesting is that that is not a new pattern. It wasn’t new with us, it has gone on for decades, and generations and generations, and it’s happening now, again, where the next generation takes a look and says, here’s some things that aren’t really working, you know, for us. What I think we tend to do, all of us, is kind of throw everything out. And that’s sort of what Samantha was referring to, we tend to overreact. And instead of trying to hold on to some things that really are worth holding on to, as we reinvent, you know, and move forward. So I think that is always the challenge no matter what generation you’re a part of, but what I see now is, nobody can deny that there is a mass migration away from the church. And so the younger generations in bigger numbers than ever identified themselves as what’s known as the nones, not n-u-n-s, who are not affiliated in any way, with a religion or organizational faith. And so we’ve got to take a look at that. I mean, you have to pay attention. It’s a big wake-up call. And I really loved the fact that I think somewhere, Samantha said, you know, it’s not so much like my generation was wondering if church could ever be relevant. And if it was going to be boring, we assumed it would be boring. So we kind of went after that. And we said, we don’t want it to be either one of those things. Whereas now, I think many people in the younger generation, I’ll let her speak to this, but basically are asking, Can the church even be trusted, you know, as an institution? And there’s a lot of reasons that they have that skepticism, and it’s our fault in many ways. The church has really excluded a lot of people and done some very destructive things which have caused people to generalize, but basically say, the church is so messed up, I, you know, I don’t want any part of it. So I think we’re at a very critical crossroads. Very critical. If the Church has hope of being a bright light, you know, Jesus wanted us to shine like lights in the darkness. And, sadly, that’s not happening in a lot of places.
Yeah, that’s good. And you know, it seems that in decades, the last few decades, there has been some course correction, right, for the church. But it feels that today, there’s a need perhaps for something greater than just a little tweaking on course correction, right? It almost feels like there’s this very real sense that, you know, and people have used this language, you know, there’s a reckoning. You know, this is the type of language that’s being used that wasn’t used, you know, 20 years ago, right. I mean, it wasn’t that type. It was like, I mean, worship wars are one thing, but the world in which we are now, it’s just completely different. So, Samantha, I’m curious, how do you kind of view this idea that, you know, the church is in a kind of a more critical stage of discovery, maybe rediscovery, and change, and how that relates to how the church is going to really be effective in ministering in, you know, years ahead.
Samantha Beach Kiley
Yeah, those are great words for it. I you know, and those of us who grew up in church and I’m in this category, I don’t think we always know how we sound until we are in relationship with people who are outside the church. And it took me honestly, through in my dating relationship with my husband, who had who believed in God, but had been kind of burned by the church, he would just repeatedly point things out to me that I took as kind of no brainers, and little details about worship services that felt exclusionary to him. And over time, it just helped me start to see how the church can appear from the outside. And so I think it’s going to take a deep dive into self awareness. And, for example, on the matter of race, and I am, I am learning this myself. But I see churches jumping towards talking about racial reconciliation, without going back to acknowledge and examine where the church has historically played a part in the racism that exists in our country today. And so without that journey of self-discovery and self, we have to go back before we’re going to be able to go forward and the church sounds a little tone deaf, when we come out, wanting to lead the way, without acknowledging the ways in which were responsible for some of the separation that exists and that exists with many people groups. But the church has done a lot of good, but the church has done a lot of damage. And I, I fear that we won’t move through this reckoning without really owning and examining the damage we’ve caused. Sometimes we’re quick to leap towards the next stage of repair without doing the due diligence of confession and lament and all that comes before that.
Yeah, I think that’s good. I think that, Samantha, is really, really challenging, right? Especially for pastors and ministry leaders, right, because we’re looking at things and we’re like: there is an issue, we recognize there’s an issue. Okay, how can we help fix that issue? And we tend to move into that mode, as you said, you know, you referenced that Samantha, that we tend to move into that mode, like, “Oh, no, there’s an issue. Okay. You know, I want to help.” But we don’t slow down often, and take the time, as you said, to kind of reflect and do some self examination, and have some of the deeper conversations. And so it’s, it can become just, you know, slapping band aids and not, you know, not in a disparaging way, you know, I mean, it’s it’s people with good intentions. But really this idea, Samantha, I love that you bring that up, of pulling back and saying, Okay, we don’t have to have an answer tomorrow, right? You know, God’s faithful, God has been at work for millennia, right? And we can rely on the Spirit to guide us and direct us. So maybe we slow down, and we get into deeper dialogue. And that’s why I love your book, because it really is a dialogue between the two of you, two generations, right? Having a dialogue over the same topics. So love, I think that that’s key. Now, in your book, Next Sunday, the two of you, as I said, you address several these important challenges that are related to the future of the church. You touched on some, Samantha, you know, the need for genuine community, you touched on that. Men and women in effective leadership roles. You talked about oppression, exclusion, making societal changes and transformations in our community, those types of things like… several other things. The final chapter, is entitled Behind the Curtain. And it’s really dedicated to this idea of creating a healthy culture in the church. And I think this is, as I said, this is the question that that pastors and ministry leaders, this is the question that we’re wrestling with the most. Oftentimes, we recognize that, that there are issues and, you know, yes, some people gloss over those issues. You know, that’s part of it. Right. But, but I think most pastors recognize there are issues, but are really kind of trying to figure out how to impact the culture, change the culture, shape the culture. Nancy, you’ve experienced your share of both unhealthy church culture and healthy church culture in your time in ministry. Nancy, what do you think it’s going to take for churches to honestly address the unhealth that is present and really work hard at embracing and developing this idea of healthy culture?
Oh, that’s a big one. And I care so much about this because I think we are all capable of blind spots. We all we all have ways in which we don’t really see sometimes what our, what some call our shadow side is, you know, our unhealthy self. And so I think it begins with leaders who are growing always in self-awareness, allowing some trusted people, whether that be a counselor or a good honest friend, to hold up a mirror to us to actually help us see what we can’t seem to see ourselves. So that’s a big part of it. I also think no matter what size your church, even tiny churches, can breed a kind of celebrity culture and a lot has been written about that lately. But this idea that because you’re upfront, whether you’re leading worship, or you’re, you know, a pastor-teacher person, people feel like they know you, and they sometimes put you on some kind of pedestal that is, is incredibly unhealthy for feeding into the tendency of many of us to think we’re more important than we really are, and to grow in our increasing narcissism, about about, you know, it’s all about me. And so, I think that’s where it has to start is with leaders aware of the danger, there’s just a danger, you know, in the pulpit, really, there’s a there’s a danger in having that much leadership, and people following you and kind of blindly, sometimes, instead of a healthy kind of growing together and questioning together. So that’s a big part of it. I always say that I want to be a part of a church, that the closer you get to the center of it, the more love of Jesus you would find, you know, the closer you get, it’s not like the Wizard of Oz, where the curtain goes away, and you see this little guy, you know, and it’s all creepy. It’s like, you get closer and closer, and you say, I sense the love of Jesus here. And the good news is that every church can grow in that, you know, you might not be so great at strategic planning, or at your vision, or fundraising or have a magnificent building or anything like that. But you can focus on being a more loving, welcoming, truly welcoming church. And that is what Jesus said would most draw people to Himself anyway. So that’s where I think our energy needs to go.
Yeah, yeah. I love that. And I think that, you know, you both had mentioned this idea of self-awareness. And, you know, there seems there was a time when self-awareness wasn’t really something that people gave a whole lot of consideration to, right. And yet now we see like, this idea of self-awareness is, is critical. And it’s, it’s not just critical. It’s Biblical. I mean, it’s very spiritual. It’s, you know, it’s part of our, you know, our soul care, our relationship with Christ, as you know, we find our identity in Christ and in Christ, in the work of the Spirit in our lives, you know, is pointing out helping us become aware of those those things in our lives. So I love that both of you touch on this idea of, of self awareness. And Samantha, I’m curious, from your perspective, what do you feel is the greatest challenge for the Church, that the Church must address to become healthier, and more effective, really, in God’s mission?
Samantha Beach Kiley
Well, there’s many. In terms of having a healthy culture. I think an obstacle to that is we’re still learning and I don’t think this is particular to the church, I think this is a challenge for all of us how to repair well. And I think that involves our relationship to our communities that we’re in, but also just the relationships between us in ministry and to those women in our church. We talked about this in the book, but one of my very wise friends who’s a therapist, she, she talks about how Brene Brown and others, more talk about vulnerability and how important that is, has made us better maybe at sharing our truth, but we don’t always know what to do with it than when it’s out there. So I know, folks whose churches and teams are walking through these tricky times where it’s like, okay, we’ve, we’ve said the hard thing, how do we move forward? And I think, as my mom was mentioning, this, this hope that as we get closer to the center of the culture of the church, we’re sensing the love of Jesus, that doesn’t mean we’re going to get it right every day. That just means we’re really good at forgiveness and repair. And, and so that I think, is a big challenge that churches that I faced in my ministry, and that and that churches everywhere are facing is how do we do repair well, to be in healthy relationships with each other?
Yeah, I think that’s very wise. And it’s one of those things that as you said, we can recognize shortcomings, but if we don’t know what to do with it at that point, then then, it really it’s nice to be self-aware, but if you don’t know what to do after you become self aware, it can be even more defeating, right? Because suddenly you’ve like, oh, you know, you pulled back the curtain, and you’re like, wait a second, there are issues. We’ve identified the issues. But what’s next. Nancy, what do you think, really is kind of next steps for a pastor or ministry leader who is working through that process of self-awareness is identifying some of those issues, but doesn’t really know what to do with them, what steps to take. What advice would you give a pastor in that situation?
Well, I think they have to do their own inner, you know, work their own inner work, whether that’s with a spiritual director or a counselor. But what I think is, is also vital is that teams together, do some of this work together. And if you need a coach to help you with that, that’s one way to do it. Maybe you have someone else in your church, who’s who is a counselor, or is someone who’s really good with, you know, relational skills, and you help each other, listen to one another, and, and identify, you know, this idea that we would be the body of Christ, and be brothers and sisters together, it all sounds so great. And then you get in real life. And, you know, you don’t look at things the same way, you get sideways, you you don’t communicate well, you don’t know how to say I’m sorry, all this stuff that’s human. And that’s all of us. And we’re all trying to get better and more Christ like in this, but we need to work at it with one another. And so I think it’s not surprising, when there’s dysfunction in a church, we shouldn’t go, Oh, my goodness, this is shocking. And we should say, Okay, we are all sinners, we are all bringing our junk to this table. And the only way through, is to learn how to listen to each other, to believe each other when someone says, “This is how that made me feel.” To not get defensive, but to believe it and then move to repentance to: “I’m sorry, I genuinely am sorry, and I want to do better.” And when a team can do that, and model that for the rest of the church, in concentric circles, you know, out all the way, it is a beautiful picture of how we’re supposed to function as the body of Christ, again, through the hard spots. So I’m so excited for Samantha, she’s joining a team starting in September, where it’s like a fresh sheet of paper in a way, you know, I just can’t wait to see how this small staff team is going to welcome her in and how they’re going to start doing life together and figuring it out and getting times that’s tough and working through that. I’ve experienced that myself. And I long for everybody to have a taste of that. It has really high highs and some really low lows. But it’s worth it. It’s the adventure of saying we’re going to build a genuine community together that then does ministry in Jesus’ name together.
Yeah, that’s beautiful. As you’re speaking there, Nancy, I was thinking, I just had a conversation recently with someone, and they mentioned that one of the things that they see, you know, the greatest that’s missing in church right now, you know, especially among ministry leaders, is this idea of confession. This idea of, you know, confessing, you know, on both sides, “hey, you know, this, this is something that I found hurtful,” and the other person confessing, hey, you know, and like you said, being repentant. And it’s so interesting because confession, you know, we look back to Bonhoeffer, for example, you know, the Confessing Church, I mean, that was at the heart of, you know, life together and all the other things that Bonhoeffer was trying to champion during an incredibly difficult time in history. And I think it’s a beautiful thing for you to highlight that idea of, you know, genuine community does not happen when we just get together and have a meeting and are just trying to be strategic about the next thing we’re trying to check off the list, right? I mean, community happens when we’re willing to, and you guys write about community in the book, which was fantastic chapter, this idea of confessions idea of, you know, being real with one another, and slowing down, you know, I mean, just slowing down enough. That, you know, we’re talking about life on life, you know, real people, emotions, feelings, you know, people everyone’s trying to navigate life, you know, no one, as you said, you’re both very gracious, I appreciate that, because no one gets it right every time. And I think that’s important. And and sometimes as pastors, ministry leaders, we, we put maybe even greater expectations on us by far than God does, but then maybe then even others do, because we feel like we have to get it right. You know, like, right in that can cause some issues, as well, Samantha. As we’re kind of talking, we’re looking at, you know, a lot of things that we’re noticing within the church and things that we’re hoping to bring light to as we’re looking toward the future, a hopeful future of the church. And I know that both of you have seen this, experienced this, I mean, you don’t have to jump on Twitter long to see this. But, you know, there are some ministry leaders who say “listen, we need to stop pointing out all the Church’s problems, all the flaws that the Church has, you know, they are plenty of people, other people, you know, people outside the church who are already doing all of that. We don’t need to be, you know, we need to have a good face on, you know, be strong, we don’t need to be fueling their fire.” Samantha, I’m curious, how would you respond to that kind of a posture when it comes to church?
Samantha Beach Kiley
Well, I think we look a little foolish if we aren’t naming some of the things that people are seeing. We just looked like, like we have blinds over our eyes. And so I think it builds back this issue of trust that my mom mentioned that I’ve perceived just among my immediate circle of friends who just don’t trust the institution, it builds back trust to name some of the reasons why that trust is broken. And which doesn’t mean we have to, like live in it all the time, the church. I hope the Church is still a place where we dream of God’s kingdom on earth, and what that will look like and how to build that together, like, I think church can be a place of great imagination, and hope and joy, and we can also name why we’re far from that. And it also helps this humility thing that we’re talking about with the leadership to say, we haven’t always gotten that, right. And that’s surely true of the people in our congregation, too. We haven’t gotten it right as an institution, we haven’t gotten it right as individuals, and here’s how we grow. Here’s what transformation can look like. So I don’t think it means we have to be negative nancies all the time. But I think I think it is an important foundation in building that trust to have that humility and self awareness, as we’ve been talking about.
Yeah, that’s really good. I think that’s solid and as you said, people are already skeptical, people outside the church are already skeptical. So the only thing that would make them more skeptical is if we continue to kind of ignore or pretend like everything’s okay. I mean, that really makes them more skeptical, like what’s wrong with these people? They, we see this, as you said, how can they not recognize this? So, I think that’s absolutely key. I would love for both of you to answer final question, as we’re wrapping up here. And you’ve both spent a lot of time, energy, thought, prayer, you know, it’s obvious, you know, from the book, thinking about the state of the church today. But the future of the Church, you know, what’s the Church of tomorrow going to be? And how is the Church of tomorrow going to be effective in God’s mission? And I would love to hear from both of you. We’ll start with Nancy, but just where do you see hope, great hope, for the future of the Church?
Well, Samantha gave birth five months ago to my first grandchild… that’s a whole new season for us. And you know, when we think about little Eloise, I think about what kind of Church will she find as she gets older. And I have a lot of hope. I do, as much as I think we have to look at the reality of the things that aren’t working well. My hope is that she will one day, find genuine community with some other people who will treasure her and help uncover her gifts, and give her a purpose and help her play a part. In the adventure, you know, of building God’s kingdom, whether she’s a volunteer, or whether she ever works for church, that’s not really the point, but that she gets to, to be a fellow worker in God’s grand adventure. I look forward to that. I believe that I still believe that it matters that we know we can be forgiven for our sins. And I’m looking forward to the day when she understands she doesn’t have to walk around with shame, and that God has this incredible, astounding, stunning grace to offer her and everyone else. So I believe the church is the agents of that, that the agent that brings us back into a relationship with God. So I have great hope for that. I have no idea really, what some of the surfacey things will look like with church at that point, and it doesn’t matter as much to me as long as they hold on to some of these touchstone things that do matter to me. And because she’s female, I look forward to a church where it doesn’t matter what her gender is, and she’s going to be able to soar with whatever gifts she has. So all those things give me, I’m pumped up about the future of the Church like I would bet on it. I do believe like when Jesus said to Peter, “are you going to leave, too?” and he said, “Where else would would we go?” I have a little bit of that feeling in my, you know, the Church is imperfect, the Church has made a lot of mistakes, but where else would I go? This is the place of hope, for me, this is God’s redemptive Plan A on this planet. And so I’m going to try to cooperate with that as best I can and make the Bride of Christ just a little bit more beautiful, every week. And if that could be our goal, we’ll be fine.
Yeah, I love that. I love that. Nancy, Samantha, how about you? But where do you see hope in the future of the church?
Samantha Beach Kiley
Well, I would bet on it too. I, we mentioned then like growing up, more aware of the realities in our world, maybe than previous generations through the internet, I read something that said, you know, we’ve grown up with more awareness of the difficulties and brokenness of our world without increasing, we’ve increased our awareness without increasing our ability to do anything about it. And I sense that sadness in a lot of my friends, and this feeling of helplessness or just being every day, we get these, and this has been a horrible news week, and we and we live in that we don’t know what to do. And so I think the hope of the church –that it could be a force of restoration in our local community, and, and in the world at large, and in our own hearts– I just don’t think there’s anything like that, and people need and want that. And we want greater capaciousness in our souls to deal with all that we are seeing and learning every day. And so I have hoped for it, because I just think it’s unlike any other part of modern life. And that’s before you meet Jesus there. But even as just an organism to come to a local place, where you can be live and up close with people who aren’t like you, who you wouldn’t rub shoulders with otherwise. And you’re all gathered there to try to become more whole, and help make your city and your community more whole. I mean, there’s, there’s nothing that I know of like that. And so that’s where my hope lies, for sure.
That’s awesome, beautiful, beautiful. Samantha. Nancy, it’s been great to hear your hearts, both of you are so passionate about it, which I absolutely love. And I really want to encourage people to check out your book, because it really is a very cool dialogue about the future of the church, you know, both from Samantha’s perspective and from Nancy’s perspective. And I’d like to give you guys an opportunity if people want to connect with you, or ministries you’re connected, to what’s the best way that they can do that.
Samantha Beach Kiley
I have a website, SamanthaBeach.work. And that’s sort of a central hub for me.
And I have a website to NancyLBeach.com. L for my middle name. And yes, so that’s probably the easiest way to reach both of us.
Perfect, excellent, we’ll have links to those into the book, in the show notes for as you can find that PastorServe.org/network. So, Samantha and Nancy, it has been a treat to be joined by both of you, and again, just to hear your hearts and, and I love, and I just want to reiterate, I love the fact that you’re both willing to look at the challenges that the church has. And the willingness to, you know, embrace that, that self-awareness for the church. But but you really do have such a sense of of grace and hope for the future, which I think is so key. Because we don’t have to look far for people who are very, very cynical about the church and don’t seem to have that sense of hope. And so I appreciate that, from both of you. So thank you for that. And I think it’s encouraging to pastors and ministry leaders, as they can hear your heart in your voices on this. So thank you for taking the time to be with us.
Thank you for having us. Yeah, we appreciate it.
Thank you, God bless you both. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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