"Do you think the existing church can be salvaged? Or do we need a whole new start?"It made me think of a quote that I can't remember from who "if the church is the bride of Christ she's a bit of a minger...!"
I'm not sure that is true...!?
I'm sure if we let church do what church does best, and be church, we wouldn't be looking around for the new bride, our eyes wouldn't be wandering - the problem is that I suspect that we don't know what the church does best.
We spend copious amount of time reading books, going to conferences, blogging, talking about our preconceived ideas of what the church should do best but have been too busy to notice that the bride we are 'showing to the world' is not having any transformational impact on the world, we haven't noticed that the bride we are 'showing to the world' is too busy preening herself, we haven't noticed that the bride we are 'showing to the world' is pre-occupied and self-absorbed. And all the time God's great redemptive story for creation gets squeezed into clever formulaes, brands and sub-brands, ecclesiatical propaganda and clever talk while we wonder how to be relevant. And all the time what the world wants and needs is for the church simply to stand up and be real.
I personally think the church is beautiful. Perhaps rather than start again, perhaps the concept of salvage is more a case of stripping away all that we have thought has made the church more appealing. Strip away the cosmetics to reveal the true beauty of church that exists in its very being. Strip away the layers of cracked foundation and discover what the church does best. Then sit back and be amazed at how appealing and beautiful the church can be.