Monday, March 24, 2008

What Does It Take To Plant or Turn A Church Around?

Resurrection faith.

You have to believe - not in your skills, or methods - but in the absolute fact that in light of what God did on Easter, there is always hope. You will encounter many reasons to cause questions to appear in your mind and even doubts to form in your heart. There will be days that you wonder why you even though you could possibly be used by God to bring the dead to life.

But then comes Easter. And you remember, God can do it. William Willimon, UMC Bishop of North Alabama writes today:

In a workshop with Paul Borden last year, someone asked him, “You are a natural leader in starting new churches. What is the main thing you look for in selecting new pastors?” Borden responded, “An Orthodox faith, a vivid belief in the Trinity, and of course, a sure faith in the resurrection.”

Don’t you find that an amazing response? I thought Borden would say something managerial, “an entrepreneurial spirit,” something like that. Or, I thought he might cite some psychological configuration or organizational expertise in the pastor. No. Borden demands theology, faith in resurrection.

It really makes a huge difference as we go about reaching a new generation of Christians, starting new churches, energizing established congregations, making disciples (our Conference priorities), if Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. If Easter is not true, then why bother?

Since Jesus Christ is raised, let loose, invading a world, returning to the very people who betrayed him, then we work not alone. The risen Christ goes before us. We serve a God who lives to raise the dead--even us. Therefore, we work with hope--not hope in ourselves and our efforts, but with hope in Christ.
It never ceases to amaze me. How little people really believe that God can do. That he is exceedingly abundantly able to do - to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. How we take resurrection and confine it to two choruses of "Up from the Grave He Arose", then resume our normal programming.

Well, no.

Resurrection changes everything.

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