06 January 2009


A Recovering Catholic in the PC(USA) has a very timely and interesting post today. It is a question that is not unique to “Stodgy Presbyterian Church,” which I suspect may be located in one of my favorite little towns, East Overshoe, Montana. The problem is that Stodgy is not alone. The Great Commission is clear:

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt. 28:18-20.

Similarly, in Acts 1:8, He commands

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Note that Jesus did not say, “If you feel like it, if you aren’t too tired, if you haven’t already been there and done that, go….” We are His until He summons us home. Nonetheless, RC and the rest of us who are striving to become the missional church for the 21st Century are struggling with a central frustrating question: “How do we get the graying church, bound as it is to the 1950s, to once again become energetic witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and, as one writer recently observed, to the end of the block?”

The graying congregations tend to be what Pastor Rick Warren called “The Family Reunion Church.” Purpose Driven Church at 122 (Zondervan (1995). I would call it the “Country Club Church.” The congregation has been relatively fixed for years or even generations. New members tend to be there by invitation through some other social or familial connection. The “walk-in” is viewed with suspicion. The Christmas Eve visitor with a small restless child is given the fish eye. (One just knows that the carol is right: “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.” So why can’t those kids be more like Him?)

And, oh, the “Worship Wars.” Heaven help the teaching or ruling elder who suggests that an alternative worship style be considered. Somebody get a rope. Somebody find a tree.

RC wonders how the Evangelism Ministry can get out to the end of the block. I think he may be jumping the gun. What does leadership do to make the congregation evangelism-ready?

I intend to suggest to RC that we explore this together. Stay tuned.


Reformed Catholic said...


this should be interesting, as there are some insights I can cull from a friend at seminary.

There's a course there, taught by the Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes where he discusses the various 'groups' in the church. I'll have to borrow the notes, but I'll get my thoughts together, and write more tomorrow evening over at my place ;)

Bill Crawford said...

The first thing the pastor must do to equip their church for evangelism is be an evenagelist.

The second is make sure that congregation can articulate the gospel.