Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Like Sand Through the Hourglass...

As I was putting together the biweekly newsletter at work, I came accross this statement by Roger Shoemaker who is a candidate for Moderator in the Presbyterian Church (USA):

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus' parable tells us about a man who built his house on a foundation of sand. I believe we have done just that without recognizing it as such.

As our membership ebbs and flows through our churches, we focus on bringing in new members, new sand to build up the membership base of our congregations, rather than building foundations of spirituality that strengthens the church. We need to strengthen our understanding of the Biblical, confessional and polity components that define us as Presbyterians.

Take out the last sentence and that could be many a church I know.

As the church I attend looks for a new pastor, one of the issues that I have heard time and time again is that we need more members. Now, the congregation is small and I can understand that. More members usually mean more money to pay for the physical plant. This is a complaint at a lot of churches. But like Shoemaker, I worry that getting on the new member train is built on sand. It's not that having new members is bad and that we should not do that, but what is behind getting new members? Is it to have more bodies to pay for the building, or is it to share the gospel of Christ? Do we even care about the spirituality of the members? Are we willing to welcome into our church those who don't have fat bank accounts?

I want to see more people in our churches. But I worry that sometimes people want this for the wrong reasons. What I see in a lot of churches is not a passion for mission but simply maintainence. A lot of people in the pews are more interested in the pastor taking care of them and bringing in more people to care for the building than they are in taking the Great Commission seriously. Caring for the people outside of the walls of the church seems to not be a major concern for some.

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