The Church Is Not A Museum – Morton T. Kelsey

The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners - Morton T. Kelsey
The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners - Morton T. Kelsey

“The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”

– Morton T. Kelsey


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“The Church is Not a Museum” is a seminal work by Moreton T. Kelsey, which advocates for an evolving church, embracing change, and fostering inclusivity. In today’s world, the relevance of religious institutions is being questioned more than ever. This thought-provoking book challenges the notion of the church as a static entity that merely preserves the past. Kelsey encourages the church to adapt to the present and prepare for the future, offering a new perspective on faith and community.

The article explores Kelsey’s major themes and arguments, highlighting the importance of transformation, inclusivity, and the need for the church to be a living, breathing entity.

The Church as a Living Entity

One of the key messages in “The Church is Not a Museum” is the idea that the church should be a living, growing, and evolving entity. Kelsey posits that the church must be open to change and adapt to the needs of its congregation and the wider society.

Kelsey emphasizes the importance of the church being flexible and adaptable. He believes that the church should not become a static institution that clings to past traditions and rituals. Instead, it should be a dynamic and living organization that is responsive to the needs of its members and the broader community.

This concept of a living church is not only about embracing change, but also about fostering a sense of belonging and nurturing relationships. Kelsey encourages churches to be more welcoming and inclusive, creating environments where everyone can feel at home.

The Necessity of Transformation

Kelsey’s book acknowledges the challenges that churches face in adapting to modern society. Many churches are struggling to maintain their relevance, with dwindling congregations and a lack of engagement from younger generations. Kelsey argues that the key to overcoming these challenges lies in embracing transformation.

He stresses that the church must not fear change but should see it as an opportunity for growth and renewal. By accepting that the world is constantly changing, the church can be better equipped to serve its members and the wider community.

Kelsey also addresses the importance of embracing new technology and communication methods, as these can help to engage a wider audience and create more opportunities for connection. By using modern tools and techniques, the church can remain relevant and accessible to people from all walks of life.

Inclusivity and Diversity

Another major theme in “The Church is Not a Museum” is the importance of inclusivity and diversity within the church. Kelsey asserts that the church should be a welcoming and accepting place for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background.

Kelsey emphasizes that the church should not be an exclusive club but should strive to be a reflection of the diverse world in which we live. By embracing diversity, the church can become a more vibrant and enriching community, fostering a sense of unity and understanding among its members.

He also argues that this inclusivity should extend to the leadership of the church. By having a diverse range of leaders, the church can be more representative of its congregation and better equipped to meet the needs of its members.

The Role of the Church in Social Justice

Kelsey’s book explores the church’s role in social justice and its responsibility to engage with the issues facing society. He believes that the church should not be isolated from the world but should actively participate in addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Kelsey suggests that the church should be at the forefront of promoting justice, equality, and compassion. By taking a proactive stance on these issues, the church can become a powerful agent for change, influencing society and inspiring positive action.

He also encourages the church to collaborate with other faith communities and organizations to address common challenges.

Dialogue and Openness

Another significant aspect of “The Church is Not a Museum” is Kelsey’s call for greater dialogue and openness within the church. He believes that fostering open and honest conversations about faith, spirituality, and the challenges faced by the church can help create a stronger and more resilient community.

Kelsey urges churches to be places where questions and doubts are welcomed, rather than shunned. By encouraging open dialogue, the church can help its members to explore their faith and develop a deeper understanding of their beliefs.

This openness should also extend to the church’s interactions with other faiths and belief systems. Kelsey advocates for interfaith dialogue as a way of promoting understanding, respect, and cooperation between different religious communities.

Empowering Members to Act

Kelsey’s vision of a dynamic, living church includes empowering its members to take action and contribute to the betterment of their communities. He suggests that the church should provide opportunities for its members to engage in meaningful service and outreach programs.

By giving members the chance to make a positive impact on their communities, the church can foster a sense of purpose and unity. This, in turn, can help to strengthen the bonds between church members and create a more vibrant and engaged congregation.

The Power of Storytelling

Throughout “The Church is Not a Museum,” Kelsey emphasizes the power of storytelling as a way to connect with others and pass on the values and traditions of the church. He argues that sharing personal stories and experiences can help to bridge gaps in understanding and create a deeper sense of empathy and compassion.

Kelsey encourages churches to use storytelling as a tool for fostering connection and engagement, both within the congregation and in the wider community. By sharing their stories, church members can inspire others, challenge preconceived notions, and demonstrate the transformative power of faith.


Moreton T. Kelsey’s “The Church is Not a Museum” is a powerful and thought-provoking work that challenges the traditional view of the church as a static, unchanging institution. By embracing change, fostering inclusivity, and engaging with the wider world, Kelsey argues that the church can become a living, breathing entity that is relevant and meaningful in today’s society.

His vision for the church is one of transformation, unity, and action, with an emphasis on social justice, open dialogue, and the power of storytelling. By reimagining the church in this way, Kelsey offers a blueprint for a vibrant, inclusive, and forward-thinking religious community that can inspire and empower its members to create positive change in the world.