The Best Way to Save the Church is to Keep Doing What We’ve Always Done

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.  (Eccl. 1:9)

Why I Missed the Leadership Summit

I didn’t make the Leadership Summit.  I wrote it down on my calendar, set my phone to go bezerk at the right time and even thought about getting close to wi-fi (which does not exist in my office).  But actually, since I’m a working pastor, I basically had other things to do.  I understand many others had other things to do as well.

I was with S. on Monday.  S. is another parishioner with Parkinson’s disease, complicated by many other matters.  On Tuesday morning she passed away.  For almost all pastors, this means taking the red ink to the day planner.  All things must move to make way.  Of course, the family’s calendar takes the hardest hit.  Rightly, they take several days off to tend to their Mom’s affairs.  They gotta talk to funeral homes, florists, gravesite people, lawyers, insurance agents, real estate folks, bank folks, church people and hospital people.  They also need the space-in-time to look at pictures, gather mementos, write obituaries and reflections, eat donated church food and mourn, mourn, mourn.  So while the church gathered in cyber-space to worry about its future, the ageless task of being with the dying and the grieving carried on.

15. Will you visit from house to house?  (BoD, para. 336)

Later on Thursday, I paid a Lenten home visit with B. and her kids.  This may be the neatest family I have ever met.  B’s 3 older biological kids + B&L’s 3 younger adopted kids from Ethiopia = a very different version of the Brady Bunch.  B, the 3 younger kids and I communed over a bowl of after-school popcorn.  The kids thanked me for various aspects of worship, they shared about what they have been learning in school and they wondered aloud about angels.  We talked about extroversion (B, H & A are extroverts) and introversion (L, R and C are introverts) and practiced good manners.  B is such a good mom.  I could not have fully appreciated that had I not seen it first-hand in the home.  Yes, they were minding their manners for the preacher.  But there is something primitively good about being welcomed into another’s home.  The only other industries I can think of where house-calls are common is parcel delivery, food delivery and home health/hospice.  Perhaps we’re supposed to be different from other industries.

Biting the Feeds that I Read on my Phone

I appreciate technology.  I mean, my newest craze is finally getting a smart phone.  I like playing on Foursquare. But living life with your head-down, eyes glued to the screen seems really sad.  I mean the forsythia are finally opening their tender yellow blooms.  The Cherry Blossoms in DC are reminding the nation that we have friends in Japan.  Why would anyone want to miss that?  The online church is interesting.  But you can’t fully appreciate the Incarnation online.  At best, the online church directs us to, or temporarily stands in for, the real church…the one made up of human souls encased in human bodies.  I mean, you can’t get baptized online and it’s really not Communion if you’re not sharing the body and blood of Christ with other people.  I’m not against technology.  But if we think it’s going to save the church…well, let’s just say that idols have a way of disappointing us.  Did Twitter die for our sins?

I went to read the Twitter feed from the Leadership Summit.  Maybe I did it wrong, but it looks like it’s already been archived.  Something 3 days ago is ancient history to Twitter.  How naive!  #theydonotknowwhatoldis

Things to Learn at a Small-Church Funeral

This weekend, I’m missing the big Conference Evangelism event.  They’ve been plugging this thing for 2 years.  In a conference of small-to-tiny churches, let’s invite a megachurch guy to tell us how to really do church.  It’s not enough that we read all their books.  But I digress.

Friday evening, I sat with S.’s son at the funeral home.  He told me about the trials and tribulations of his mother’s life and his plans for the future.  I know that his future is very uncertain, but I admire his vision and his resolve.  And today (Saturday), I’ll give an old-fashioned eulogy.  It will contain scripture, biography, advice on grieving and words of comfort.  Someone will sing “I’ll Fly Away”.  There will be no video screens, Twitter feeds, etc.  Just a room of 20-25 people talking, listening, singing, crying, laughing, hugging, thanking, praying and leaning on one another.  Jesus happens upon a scene where the friends and family of Lazarus are doing a similar thing…albeit 2 millenia ago.

The Low-Tech Echoes of Matthew 25

I guess I am skeptical that the church must modernize.  Having a webpage is good and a necessary means of communication, but man cannot live by Facebook alone.

I think that church will be saved by comforting the grieving, supporting the busy moms, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, the lonely and the imprisoned, preaching the gospel, teaching the Bible, eating with one another, building up the community, tearing down human divisions, confronting wrong, inviting confession, absolving sins, enabling forgiveness, hugging children, honoring the elderly, promoting peace, praying for soldiers, teachers, peacemakers and shut-ins, etc., etc., etc.

The Concluding Irony

Yes…I’ll probably plug this post by sharing it via Facebook and Twitter, thus eating my own words.  Please know that I know that.

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