Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm Back

I have returned from our week away. Of course you probably noticed that already with the previous post :) The time away was great. It was an opportunity to recharge my batteries through rest and reading. During the time away I read Hitting The Bullseye by Paul D. Borden and Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller. Both books deal with church growth, but they are as different as night and day. Paul Borden takes a very business like approach to the problem of shrinking churches, and while what he states as being his reasons for wanting the church to grow are biblical, I could not help but question whether the way he encourages it to be done is the correct one. It seems like the pragmatic approach. It certainly has been effective in his own setting of the American Baptist Church. But, it seems to be very mercenary and lacking in taking a whole biblical approach. This is not to say that he did not have some good points. His understanding that the local church is the fundamental unit for church growth is right on and very biblical. His view that higher judicatories exist primarily to strengthen the local church in fulfilling the great commission is also right on. It is something that the RCA should take seriously in considering out 10 year goal. At least here in Canada, we send lots of money to the US end of the RCA, and see little or none of it back to our local congregations. I wonder what it would be like if the GS cut all those various groups and offices that we are supporting that have nothing to do with the 10 year goal, and put that money into directly assisting the churches in fulfilling the great commission. Better yet, let the local church keep the money and use it to minister the gospel in their local setting. Having said that, reading Paul Borden did not encourage me, or even really challenge me in my own walk of faith. On the other hand Outgrowing the Ingrown Church was a whole other situation. In is John Miller constantly went back to scripture to exhort, encourage, and correct the things that have gone wrong in congregation that have become ingrown. As I read it I was many times moved to repent of having become as ingrown as the congregation I pastor. I was challenged again and again to come to a full understanding of the gospel promises found in scripture that are fulfilled in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in all those who believe. I was made aware again and again that the many ways that I, like the congregation I serve, have become more and more ingrown. I was also reminded that it a lack of faith in the power of the gospel that lies at the heart of this inward focus. This book is one that I would recommend to others, and which I want to read again taking more time, so that I can work through what I need to do to live as a gospel minister. As I do so, I will hopefully post my thoughts as I go through it.


Post a Comment