Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Where Am I?

Like Dorothy talking to her dog after landing in Oz, I keep mumbling to myself about what is going on in the evangelical church, and in particular, the RCA. For one thing, there seems to be a lot anxiety about the future of the church. But didn't Jesus promise to be with us always, even unto the end of the age? Because some churches aren't growing, they are coming under criticism. I heard a speaker at a Regional Synod meeting berate our entire assembly for not grasping the truth that it was no longer necessary to be faithful or to be family, but we must be fruitful! If you're not fruitful, you are not faithful. Fruitful here, is always defined as numerical growth. I read another speech given at an RCA synod event, which floated the idea that pastor's salary guidelines be based not on years of experience, but on how many church starts and conversions they had made. Beware, I say, the advent of the efficiency experts and bean-counters!

Clergy are being summarily fired, as if they were mere employees, and business models for ministry are everywhere being talked of as the new salvation. I saw one very large church's staff titles and laughed out loud. One clergyman is called "Pastor of Creative Options." Another is the "Pastor of Sacred Revolution," who clearly must resent the "Pastor of Foundations." Finally, there is someone called "Pastor of the Quest." I have no idea of what any of this means. I don't understand coached revitalization networks. I see little point in adopting secular weapons to wage spiritual warfare. Between all this and Christian rap and emergent church navel-gazing, the whole place looks like Oz.

Now I am not a traditionalist. I pastor a very conservative church, with a simplified liturgy and contemporary music (with some hymns thrown in). I have never enjoyed church so much since we've changed our format. But all of these programs and blame-games going on in the denomination make me uneasy. I thought the whole idea was to worship God, share the good news, and edify the congregation. I think Ray Comfort is correct, we need to tell people they are in dire peril, and unless they repent they are going to hell. I think we need to get back to teaching that Scripture is sufficient, and utterly authoritative. This morning I read in my devotions from Psalm 119:160, "The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your judgments endures forever." Let's be biblical and faithful and preach the whole counsel of God, and trust in His providence for the future. A pox on the bean-counters, the measurers, and all the other experts who ply their wares like snake oil salesmen to the gullible, frightened masses. We should have no fear. "Perfect love, casteth out fear," I once read. Now I am going to try and find out what a Pastor of the Quest means. It sounds like a comic book, but you never know, we're not in Kansas any more.


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