April 13, 2018
I have never visited a church that did not want to grow, specifically to grow in numbers of members. Whether 10 members or 100 or 1000, a feeling that more members will make life together better is shared by most all. So, everyone looks for the secret — how does our church grow like the early church? The stories in the Acts of the Apostles of church growth put us all to shame. What can we do to be like them?
Several responses to that question can be found, from quick fixes to adaptive changes that take significant spiritual work. Our Presbytery had eight congregations and “adaptive change agents” work with the PneuMatrix consultants, Jim Kitchens and Deborah Wright. They tell us no quick fixes are to be had.
I was trained as an “intellectual historian” so I tend to learn from writers who seek a longer, historical perspective on the issues we face. I have discovered recently that a # 1 Best Seller on Amazon is one such book: “The Triumph of Christianity” by Bart Ehrman. The subtitle is inviting: “How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World.” The author has become a popular writer not simply for the topics he addresses but also for his own professed lack of faith. He is open about his journey through the church of his childhood into an adult historian; his lack of faith has surprised some who sought to learn from him. Yet, faith is not required to do history, even religious history.
I am venturing into Ehrman’s story of how the early church grew to see what I might learn for our contemporary church. I confess that I have preferences for other writers on this topic, especially Diana Butler Bass, and will no doubt refer to them from time to time.
I invite you to join me in this reading adventure, and share in this space wisdom you have received from other writers.
Christ is risen!