An Ancient Look at Tomorrow’s Church

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Standing in the town square in Heidelberg, Germany, I couldn’t take my eyes off the grandeur of the cathedral that sat directly in the centre of the old city. Built during the great Reformation, it was as if all roads in the city were designed to run to and from the spiritual centre of town.

It was in February of this year that I had found myself in this town centre. I was here taking part in meetings of the Willow Creek International Council, and on this day as we toured this magnificent old city I became captivated by how powerfully this central location of the cathedral communicated the place that the Church held during the Reformation.

the-castle-in-heidelbergIt was literally the spiritual centre of the city.

I wondered what it must have been like to have lived at such a time. At such a time the leaders of this church would have realized that they were spiritual leaders not merely of a congregation, but more so of an entire community.

There was once such a day in Canada too. There was a day when leaders of local churches were seen as the spiritual guardians of the entire community. And these leaders saw that their spiritual responsibility extended well beyond the wall of their church building, and permeated every facet of their community.

And while this still exists in isolated pockets of our country, the church in Canada today has largely been moved to the fringes of our communities.

But something very old is stirring once again in Canada. It’s as if God’s Spirit is beginning to blow a fresh wind through our churches, calling leaders to return their influence to their broader communities. More and more we are seeing Christian leaders recognizing that they have a spiritual responsibility to their communities, their region and ultimately to all of Canada.

As I see what God seems to be up to, I think back to that magnificent cathedral in Germany, and I wonder if perhaps the Church in Canada is starting to move back to the spiritual centres of our communities too.

Who knows; perhaps we are starting to feel the rumblings of a 21st Century reformation right here in the Great White North.

  • What do you think it would take to return the Church in Canada to the ‘spiritual centres’ of our communities?
  • What would be the result?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Scott…what a great question, I look forward to what others will say. I think that a greater involvement in the community is necessary. Too many churches are inward focused. I think integrity and vision will be key. Leaders will need to be respected and trusted and we’ll need to start thinking big.

  2. Great insight Heather. We almost need to recapture the concept of a ‘parish’, where a church leader viewed his entire community as under his spiritual care, not merely those who happen to attend services on the weeekend.

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