Thursday, April 27, 2006
New Wine in Old Wineskins
This picture was taken on a 7 hour layover in Vienna, Austria on my way to Albania. It was on a Sunday afternoon while the cathedral was having worship. Notice the scaffolding. They are trying to revive, renovate this ancient church building. Notice, also, the people milling around the square oblivious to the renovation on the outside and the spiritual renovation on the inside. Can the church reach them?
Rick Warren, minister for the Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of the Purpose Driven Life, said this about the resignation of a national leader and the state of the church in America:
"You can't put new wine in old wineskins. When you try to do that, the skin bursts, and somebody gets blamed. The sad symptoms we see in so many Christian organizations, churches, and denominations today are caused by a number of theological, cultural, and structural problems that are deeper than just personality issues. The causes are both systemic and endemic, and should surprise no one who has been watching the past 25 years. We will either have another genuine Reformation, or the American church will eventually go the way of Europe. Nothing less will solve the problem, so I'm praying and working as hard as I can for the first option."
As a minister of 20 years, college instructor, and now a future church planter; I have wrestled with the following question. "Are our resources best used to plant new churches to reach new people or to revive declining congregations (many which resist change)?" While I understand that the answer to this is yes and yes I am still drawn to have conversation about what is working. While I understand that one life is worth saving, I wonder how many lives are lost (or could be won) because we are trying to convince that one person to do what they should already be doing? Is the Great Commission a suggestion or a command?
What Think Ye?