Pastor's note--May 2012 Print
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:02


From the Pastor


   I have been doing some reading about church vitality and renewal off and on since seminary. I recently purchased Diane Butler Bass’ Christianity for the Rest of Us, which is a 2009 book that explores ways of thinking about and being church. Her book concludes a three year study of various neighborhood congregations that are affiliated with “mainline” denominations (like the United Church of Christ). I think the book will be quite helpful as it not only chronicles the ups and downs of the neighborhood church, it points to practices that vital, faithful congregations practice, many of which we already do (like hospitality). After reading the book, I may suggest that various other leaders in the congregation read it so that we can have rich conversations. (See, another reason to go to Vision Coordinating Team meetings!)

   When I read a review of the book recently, I remembered that a couple of years ago, I had copied a 20 point renewal program from either her blog or another blog that credited Bass with the plan. I wish that I had the exact cite, or the right site. I find it insightful, humorous, and thought-provoking. I hope that you do as well.


Twenty Point Church Renewal Plan

Diane Butler Bass

Be genuine. Do not under any circumstances try to be trendy or hip, if you are not already intrinsically trendy or hip. If you are a 90-year-old woman who enjoys crocheting and listens to Beethoven, by God be proud of it.


Stop pretending you have a rock band.


Stop arguing about whether gay people are okay, fully human, or whatever else. Seriously. Stop it.


Stop arguing about whether women are okay, fully human, or are capable of being in a position of leadership.


Stop looking for the "objective truth" in Scripture.


Start looking for the beautiful truth in Scripture.


Actually read the Scriptures. If you are Episcopalian, go buy a Bible and read it. Start in Genesis, it's pretty cool. You can skip some of the other boring parts in the Bible. Remember though that almost every book of the Bible has some really funky stuff in it. Remember to keep #5 and #6 in mind though. If you are evangelical, you may need to stop reading the Bible for about 10 years. Don't worry: during those ten years you can work on putting these other steps into practice.


Start worrying about extreme poverty, violence against women, racism, consumerism, and the rate at which children are dying worldwide of preventable, treatable diseases. Put all the energy you formerly spent worrying about the legit-ness of gay people into figuring out ways to do some good in these areas.


Do not shy away from lighting candles, silence, incense, laughter, really good food, and extraordinary music. By "extraordinary music" I mean genuine music. Soulful music. Well-written, well-composed music. Original music. Four-part harmony music. Funky retro organ music. Hymns. Taize chants. Bluegrass. Steel guitar. Humming. Gospel. We are the church; we have a uber-rich history of amazing music. Remember this.


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


Learn how to sit with people who are dying.


Feast as much as possible. Cardboard communion wafers are a feast in symbol only. Humans can not live on symbols alone. Remember this.


Notice visitors, smile genuinely at them, include them in conversations, but do not overwhelm them.


Be vulnerable.


Stop worrying about getting young people into the church. Stop worrying about marketing strategies. Take a deep breath. If there is a God, that God isn't going to die even if there are no more Christians at all.


Figure out who is suffering in your community. Go be with them.


Remind yourself that you don't have to take God to anyone. God is already with everyone. So, rather than taking the approach that you need to take the truth out to people who need it, adopt the approach that you need to go find the truth that others have and you are missing. Go be evangelized.


Put some time and care and energy into creating a beautiful space for worship and being-together. But shy away from building campaigns, parking lot expansions, and what-have-you. Make some part of the church building accessible for people to pray in 24/7. Put some blankets there too, in case someone has nowhere else to go for the night.


Listen to God (to Wisdom, to Love) more than you speak your opinions.


This is a fool-proof plan. If you do it, I guarantee that you will attract young people to your church. And lots of other kinds of people too. The end.


I laugh when I see some of those. I feel proud of our congregation on some points. And I feel convicted on other points. I look forward to hearing from you what your reaction is.


Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:49