Saturday, October 17, 2015
Who needs what?
It strikes me that we spend a great deal of time talking about who we would like to see in our churches (drag queens for Bolz-Weber and young families for gray haired congregations and such). We ought to be spending less time figuring out who we would like to have in our parishes and more time spent reaching sinners with the Word of the Lord. I know how easy it is to think in terms of the make up of our parishes (ethnicity, family status, age, etc...) but we are not marketers seeking to sell a produce but witnesses to the grace and mercy of God (of whom we are also those who have received grace upon grace).
I cannot tell you who God needs or who we need in our parish but I am pretty sure that every person is in need of the message of the cross, the splash of new life, the absolution of their sins, and the taste of eternal life. Once we stop marketing the Gospel or looking at the pews as if we were decorating God's living room we just might get it. God's grace is all inclusive even as it is the one and exclusive source of forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Church growth gurus are quick to give you formulas about the kind of folks you need in the pews for your parish to survive or flourish. Stewardship folks will tell you the kind of givers you need to make sure the bills are paid. Diversity people will tell you what a representative sample of your neighborhood, community, or denomination looks like. All of this might be interesting enough but it is surely a distraction from the bold and blunt reality that we are sinners in need of the merciful God who is Jesus Christ. Once this is first and foremost in preaching, teaching, and focus, churches just might forget about wishing for those they think might spice up the mix in the pews. And that would be a good thing.