I saw this story this morning, about the splits in the Mainlines. A statement made in it has stuck in my crawl all day:
There’s a popular saying in church-planting circles: It’s easier to make babies than to raise the dead.
That principle applies to denominations as well, said the Rev. Paul Detterman, who helped found the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians in January.
“We thought it was easier in the long run to create something new rather than to keep on trying to modify existing forms,” he said…
On the IVP Facebook Page, they posted about this book and a quote from it:
“In these days when we are spending so much money, time and energy in the task of healing or growing the church, my hope is that we will see that our work is less about saving the church and more about proclaiming the presence of God to both the souls who compose it and those who dwell outside it.” - from The Sacred Wilderness of Pastoral Ministry by David Rohrer
This was my response:
I read a statement today popular among church-planters (I’m not against Church Planters, but these Church Planters are of the type who see no hope in traditional Christianity, mainlines, etc… and are off to start their own) which goes something like, “It’s easier to make babies than to raise the dead.” While I’m all for making babies, as Christians, we are sorta supposed to be about raising the dead. I mean, look at Ephesians 5.14 and the many verses which show the connection proclaiming the Spirit with the life which it brings. We do not need to make babies to save the Church – we need to resurrect it by, in the Spirit, proclaiming life.
It was a rant… yup, but these two things sort of coincided in such a way that I finally realized why that statement in the article made me mad. I haven’t read the book, but it looks interesting. I tend to think that we treat pastors as if they are the CEO, psychotherapist, life coach and Martin Luther. Further, we see the Church as some place we go to and the structures of the Church as a permanent thing. We see those who disagree with us as the enemies. As the pastor in the article said – it was easier to run away than to work within the Church to resurrect the dead. We are Christians. We are sort of founded on the whole idea of the dead can be raised. Proclaim the Gospel. Preach it. Pastor. Teach. Lead. Pray. Shut-up. Stop worrying about the Church as a scaffolding structure and remember what the Gospel is. Don’t run away from a fight, but raise the dead.
From the IVP site:
Pastors often find themselves struggling to survive in the wilderness of the contemporary church scene. How do they remain faithful in light of the marginalization of organized religion, denominational strife, rapid demographic change, falling numbers and a general malaise among church members? Many pastors feel helpless, others hopeless. Sociologists and pollsters diagnose the problem but can’t seem to come up with a solution. Is there hope?
Author and pastor David Rohrer believes there is. John the Baptist also lived in the wilderness, yet crowds journeyed there to hear him. Why? Because John “affirmed what people already knew: that they were in desperate need of something more than the mundane practices of a religion that had been cut off from its source of life.” John called people to remember their covenant relationship with God, which was established in the wilderness, and to let God guide them once again across the Jordan and into the Promised Land.
Pastors, says Rohrer, “don’t primarily exist to build and maintain the institution of the church. We exist to do a particular work through the church. In short, we don’t simply have an institution to create, refine or maintain; we have a gospel to preach.” John’s prophetic voice prepared hearts to be receptive to Christ’s work among them, to be transformed by the power of God. Herein lies hope!
Using illustrations from everyday church life and decades of ministry experience, Rohrer carefully crafts a lively and realistic pastoral theology for ministry in the sacred wilderness. If you are a new pastor you have a sure guide here. If you are a veteran preacher you’ll find just the refresher course you need to invigorate your ministry.