Thursday, October 01, 2015
Our Role in God's Miracles
The numerical decline in churches, the graying of the mainline, and the growth of the nones (people who claim no religious affiliation) have generated lots of talk about institutional death. The activities of death and decline in the church happen quietly: endowments atrophy, sanctuaries are deconsecrated, and church bodies strain to make the membership losses seem less obvious.You know, there is a difference between God raising someone from the dead and someone seeking to die in order to be resurrected. That's what keep going through my mind when I read this kind of stuff. God will make the best of whatever circumstance confronts us, but that does not mean we should seek lousy circumstance just to watch the miracle!
In almost every conversation I have about this phenomenon—especially with ecclesial leaders—the idea of institutional crisis and renewal comes up. A common theme is that crisis—the threat of death—presents an opportunity for renewal. The language of crisis and renewal (borrowed from the world of business management) is paired with the theological categories of death and resurrection. The church needs to experience a death in order to experience a resurrection, the argument goes.
Optimism is a funny thing. Unchecked it results in silliness like seeking bad things to watch miracles. I knew people that are now dead because of such thinking. Optimism must be coupled with reality, and an understanding that WE are the mostly likely agents of God's miracles - we are not mere spectators. God may indeed raise the mainlines form the dead, but we are going to be the agents of the resurrection.
So I ask you - what are you doing about it?
church death resurrection