Feb 21, 2008

Excerpt from "Who Stole My Church?"

Here's an excerpt from the introduction to Gordon MacDonald's book Who Stole My Church?

The title of this book, Who Stole My Church?, springs from a conversation a few years ago with a distraught man who felt betrayed by the church he had invested in for most of his adult years. From his perspective everything had changed - overnight - into something that made him feel like a stranger in the place he'd always thought of his spiritual home.

As the man described it, programs had been dumped, traditional music trashed, preaching styles and topics revolutionized, symbols of reverence (appropriate clothing, crosses, communion tables, and pulpits) thrust aside.

His anger was aimed at the new young pastor who was hired by the church leadership "to stir things up with new vision."

According to this man, most of the church members - in particular the older generation - had no idea what they were getting themselves into when all the growth talk began. Who would protest against the idea of finding fresh ways to evangelize the unchurched? But what people expected was merely a fresh voice in the pulpit and a program or two imported from more successful churches.

What he and his fellow church members had not anticipated was a total shift in the church's culture, a reinvention of ways to love God and serve people. What they did not see coming was s reshuffling of the church's priorities, so that lost and broken people rather than found and supposedly fixed people became the primary target audience. In summary: virtually everything in the life of the church under new leadership became focused on reaching people who were not yet there.

This is James speaking again.

Man does that sound familiar. That's what we're going through. We know we've been called to be this church that is focused outward. The emphasis has to be there because the natural bent of all human organizations is to be inwardly focused. We have to be intentional about being externally and missionally focused.

And that's the reason why our vision at Trinity is 1) Grow new Christians, 2) Grow faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

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