(LWP editors asked Rosalee Velloso Ewell about her hopes for the Church in 2020. Below are her answers.)
Q. What are your hopes for the global Church ten years from now?
A. I have two main hopes.
First, I have hope for a Church that is less divided, less polarized. The Church today looks too much like the church in Corinth—divided among itself and not of the same mind. Such divisions are not only harmful to the Church's members, hindering their care and growth, but is disastrous for our witness in the world.
How can a divided body show the world a whole gospel? I hope local churches will find ways to come together for the sake of their missionary efforts, for the sake of being true witnesses for Christ in a divided world. Churches can come together on all sorts of matters, from the building of friendships over shared meals, to working together to help troubled youth suffering under the influence of drugs.
Second, I hope for a Church that is focused on what is local, without trying to create grand schemes for world domination. Such local practices of faithfulness are what change the world—one story at a time.
Related to this is the hope for a Church the genuinely takes the whole Bible seriously. This includes the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelation. The Bible begins and ends with creation and new creation; however, the Church (locally and globally) has been very weak at caring for creation and thinking about its practices and witness in relation to the earth God has given us. At the very least, it's time for each local church to start thinking about mundane matters like what it does with waste, for in these also the Church is obedient to her call to care for the earth.
Q. What are your hopes for the Church in Latin America ten years from now?
A. I hope that the Church in Latin America will not fall into the trap of pride. With rapid church growth and a large number of leaders from Latin America coming onto the world scene of evangelical Christianity, the Church also runs the risk of thinking it “has made it”—that it's reached its high point. I hope, rather, for a Church that remembers who her Lord is and that we are called to be like Jesus, to empty ourselves and to serve, without falling prey to the seductions of fame and power that so often corrupt the Church.
I hope for a Church in Latin America that is prophetic and fearless in its witness—one that speaks the truth in love to the powers that be, to the rich and to the poor, thus turning the world upside down with the good news of the gospel. Such a radical Church invites those outside to come join the madness that is this upside-down Kingdom of God.
Q. In order to make these hopes a reality, what do the Body of Christ and church leaders need to start doing today?
A. We need to start with prayer and confession. We need to be quiet and talk less, opening our ears to the ways in which the Spirit wants to speak and lead. And we need to trust that if we are faithful, especially in the small things, that the Spirit will indeed speak to us and lead us.
But in order for that to happen, the Church and her leaders need to have the ears to hear and the eyes to see. Ears and eyes come from a lifetime of practice, of quiet listening, prayer, and being immersed in God's word. If we think we can come up with methods and trends to change the world for Christ without serious engagement with scripture, then we've missed the point and will no longer be able to be the radical people God has called us to be.