As the Colbert Report-version of Stephen Colbert would ask, “Back to the Future”: great movie franchise, or The Greatest movie franchise?
I was eight years old when the first installment of the trilogy was released, warning us all of the dangers of interrupting the space-time continuum. In many ways, though, I think the second film has had the most impact on cultural conversation. It gave us a glimpse of what life might be like WAY in the future – today! I can hardly toggle between websites this morning without seeing an article or video outlining what Back to the Future II got right about 2015 (such as video calls, hoverboards, and holograms) and how it missed the mark (we don’t have flying cars or use faxes for important messages anymore, for example). The movies are giving us a fun way to remember former assumptions, revisit priorities, and envision the next few years, at least in a tech sense.
Benchmarks that prompt us to re-evaluate are just as valuable in church life. Where is God calling our congregation to go? How will we keep our flux capacitors powered up for the mission? What will it look like if we attain the vision? And when we reach the date of our future story, what expectations do we need to shift and what plans do we need to alter so that we stay faithful to God and available for service? Questions like these keep our churches moving forward instead of operating like they have been deposited back in 1955.
The “Back to the Future” series may well be The Greatest movie franchise, and it provides us great fodder for thought. But unlike the DeLorean, until kingdom come, our churches will need roads paved with careful discernment. May your congregation have the courage to hit the gas and power into the future, sparking hope and imagination as it does so.