Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Epic Churches for Epic Times

E-P-I-C Final Remarks

The point of this series was to challenge myself, and anyone else who chose to read the blog, to look critically at our churches and see how we are reaching those who have a postmodern worldview. I love the church that I serve. We are continually looking to Christ to see where he is leading us to change or stay the same. In the past two years we had already started to incorporate many of the Sweet’s suggestions. God has been using our church and its ministries to transform many lives. But here’s the catch, we live in one of the most unchurched regions of the country. Thousands of people are moving into our area and most are not attending ANY church. This should concern every church in our area.

Should we move away from the written word? No. That isn’t what I have been saying (and neither is Sweet). We just need to be aware of how people learn. Using all of our senses helps with the learning process. Some people love and appreciate a sentence that is crafted by a skilled communicator. Others shy away from “words” due to their reading ability or for some other reason. There are others who are visual and to stimulate them visually will greatly aid their learning process. Other people learn by hearing, or doing, or by sitting and contemplating, or… or… or…

Do you see the picture? People are different. We learn and are inspired in different ways. Pastors and church leaders need to keep this in mind. A beautiful hymn can melt the heart, as can one of the just written worship songs. I am not a “good” reader. Never have been—probably never will. I still read. A friend of mine fits that same category. For him to read through the Bible would be a HUGE struggle. So what did he do? He bought a copy of the Bible on CD. He has gone through the whole Bible while driving to and from work. Yes, he still reads his Bible. People are different.

The former “mainline” churches have experienced catastrophic membership loses over the past three decades. This should concern everyone in those denominations. As a PCUSA pastor I am concerned! I see our denomination getting “older.” I see Evergreen getting older. I am getting older. Does that mean that we throw out everything from the past? Heavens no!

“Post-Modern Pilgrims,” by Leonard Sweet, challenges the church to think about what it is doing—to be intentional. The church needs to follow the Lord’s leading as it ministers year after year. THE TRUTH never changes! The way the truth is communicated needs to be adapted for each cultural setting. The church I serve will “look” slightly different than the church you are in (we are in different cultural settings). You may be in a church like Highland Park Presbyterian Church (Dallas, Texas) with rich traditional, liturgical worship services. Praise God! You may be in a church like Adventure of Faith Presbyterian Church (Port Orchard, Washington) where their contemporary worship services are reaching the unchurched masses on the Kitsap Peninsula. Praise God! We have to keep those with a postmodern worldview in mind as we plan and lead worship and the ministries of our churches. Christ does not desire that any should perish. We should have that same mindset. After all, we have been called to go unto all the world…

Note: My wife and I are in the midst of a move. We are about 90% out of our "old" house and about 50% into our "new" older house. I have not had the time to respond to all of your comments--for that I am sorry. We are hoping to have this move completed in a couple of weeks and then I will have more time to keep up on my responding to your comments. When faced with the choice of finding out why the washing machine and the dishwasher have no water or to keep up with all of my blogging, you know which wins out. One thing I have learned through all of this is the MOVING SUCKS! Thanks for reading my blog through all of this turmoil. All of your feedback is greatly appreciated!


At 5:39 PM , Blogger islandpreacha said...

Hey Dude - I appreciate your recent thoughts on shifts into postmodernity and the hope and future of our congregations and denomination. These are no doubt big issues and no body has THE answer...and every situation/context is a little bit differnect. Thanks for thinking openly about it...ive enjoyed it..as well as the thinking on LEAP leadership. So...keep up the good work! And yes...moving sucks!

Most of our churches are going to have to adapt and *change* in one way or another or clergy will end up only being chaplains to ageing congreagation. Assuming of course that teh pcusa is still together in some form or fashion. gulp. My presbytery has closed three churches in the past five yrs and I think a safe bet is that there are 5 or 8 more that could likely be closed for dwindling membership. A difficult task but necessary. However, new church development is very very slow.

again, thanks for stimulating conversation on ways to faithfully and creatively serve Christ's church.


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