There comes a time in every homeowner's life....that you think about doing something to spruce up the place. For some reason I like watching HGTV, the Home & Garden channel. There are lots of shows about new home buyers, trying to sell your home, renovating, decorating, etc. OK. Let's assume you are wondering if you should do something to fix up your house. You might think it is just perfect the way it is. You wouldn't change a thing. Retain. You might decide to paint a few rooms, change a carpet, or get new drapes. Redecorate. You might decide to knock down a wall, put in another bathroom, or turn the garage into an in-law suite. Renovate. You might decide to rip off the roof and build another floor, gut the interior, move the kitchen to the back, and add two more bedrooms, or perhaps raise the whole house and build a new foundation. Reconstruct. You might decide you like the location, but need to completely destroy the house and build a new one from scratch. Replace. It all depends on how much work you think is necessary. How much is wrong with what you have. How to make your house more useful, more of what you need it to be. How much of what you have is worth saving. How solid what you have is, and how much it can stand major work.
Most of us recognize that the Church needs some work. It isn't showing it's age as well as we might hope. It isn't quite as practical or useful as it once was. There seems to be some rot in one corner, and we aren't sure how deep the problem is. There are a couple rooms that just don't get much use anymore, while another one could sure use some enlarging. I guess the issue is the same as fixing the house. How much work is necessary? How serious are the things that are wrong? What will it take to make it more usable? How much is worth saving? How solid is it, can it stand the amount of change necessary, or does it basically need to be torn down and completely rebuilt? I think the difference between the positions taken by different people on the state of the church comes from their answers to the previous questions. Some people think it is as close to perfect as you can imagine. The preacher is fine, the style is fine, the atmosphere is fine, the attendance is fine. Retain. Some see that a couple minor changes will be all it takes to bring the church up to speed. Perhaps an adjustment to the music, or adding a new youth program. Redecorate (figuratively). Others are ready for something a bit more strenuous. Ditch the liturgy (or bring it back). Start meeting on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. Ditch the pulpit and pews, and put in round tables and sit the people around them in small discussion groups. Fire up a few candles. Renovate. Still others think all of that is small potatoes. Sell the building. Eliminate the pastor. Meet in coffee shops or pubs, open a soup kitchen, live in a communal house. Welcome and affirm everyone. Reconstruct. A few brave souls even want to go further. Reconsider the Bible more as literature and less as a question and answer book. Rethink salvation and grace. Question things considered fundamental like sin, hell, the sovereignty of God. Rebuild. I'll bet that any of you that consider yourself a follower of Christ can see yourself in one of these categories. Anything less drastic doesn't seem like enough, anything more seems like heresy. And therein lies the rub within Christendom. There is something worth salvaging about this group of ragtag imitators of Christ. We just can't agree on how much. There is a chunk of the foundation that is solid enough to build on. We just aren't sure how big that chunk is. And if we figure out how deep to carve away, we still won't agree on what the new finished product should look like. Or how soon we will probably have to do it again. I really appreciate the conversation these days about all of this. It encourages my heart and gives me hope. But also almost drives me to distraction sometimes. God help us!
Life has taken me from the rather predictable working year after year and not feeling fulfilled to serving with Youth With A Mission as a missionary in my homeland of Canada. I am presently active in Victoria, with responsibilities and interests in our YWAM office, and out on the street. (and feeling more fulfilled than at any time earlier in my life.)