You Can’t Build Church by Rewriting the Bible
Do Christians Believe in the Resurrection?
I’m looking for proof! Not proof in the Resurrection. The Church accepts that, don’t we?
I’m looking for proof that church leaders believe.
There is so much talk in the Church about dying—especially dying congregations.
I don’t know one church governing council that meets monthly to talk about their death. They don’t consider themselves to be dying. They recognize challenges, but the people who are keeping the church alive aren’t subscribing to their death sentences. They rely on hope. They look to leaders for help. Often, they find none.
The people are frustrated that their work is unrecognized. What they hear from leaders is troubling. Our experience at Redeemer illustrates it:
In 2000, a bishop told us he had no intention of helping our congregation. “In ten years, you will die a natural death.”
Instead, we grew. Slowly. But we grew.
In 2006, we started to grow quickly. We returned to our regional body. “Will you help us now?”
It took numerous attempts to get an answer—and what a discouraging answer.
“It doesn’t matter what you do. The bishop intends to close your church.”
It was two more years before the bishop got around to implementing the plan made with no consultation of our members. Our church had accepted 49 new members in that time.
But the bishop’s envoy was right. Nothing the laity of the church achieved mattered.
We were on the synod’s death list.
That death list in the Christian church is long. It is a topic frequently addressed on church blogs.
The focus attacks the church at its roots. Church members hear the stories of God’s love. They hear about how each one is precious. Then they are told by church leaders, that they don’t count and worse—they are causing church failure.
Where is this approach getting us?
There are prominent church leaders who make a living off of this situation. They create a theology around what they are doing—a dangerous and misguided theology.
Scriptural references are twisted from their original meanings to justify the point of view of the modern “reformers” or “replanters.”
The truth is they can’t find much support for their approach to ministry in the Bible.
New Wine and Old Wine Skins
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
Old wine skins are not the people of the church. The old wine skins are the Pharisees and Scribes—the church leaders! This passage addresses the transition from Jewish practices that predate the coming of the Messiah.
We have to get rid of old memberships to replant churches. We have our own theory about that. See at left.
We might pay more attention to a later verse in the same gospel.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.
Old Churches Must Die,
So New Churches Can Live.
It’s A Modern Resurrection!
The second foundational story of a modern church-buider’s theology is the Resurrection story.
You know the story: Christ died so that we can live.
Theologians change the story. Congregations must die so new churches can live.
You discourage the faithful to encourage new faithful!
Christ died once and for all.
We can’t repeat that miracle no matter how hard we try—and there is no need to!
A New Study Sees Value in Those “Old Wine Skins”
The “new” ways to grow churches are no better than the “old.”
Flashes in the pan. Neighborhood churches sense that already and look upon the advice of church leaders skeptically.
Maybe we should return to the Bible—the way it is written. Focus on love, service, caring, forgiving, reconciling, etc. These are the messages of Christ.
When we focus on love, we prove that we truly believe in the Resurrection.