“Perhaps instead of church planting, we should practice resurrection with dying churches… to bring new life to dying congregations. To go to the forgotten places of our city, those neighborhoods long ago abandoned by our peers out of fear and indifference, ignored, overloked, and left to die. To breathe new life and practice the resurrection of our Lord at home, down the street, next door, and to remember those left for dead.”
I wrote this today, admittedly during the last part of the pastors sermon (sorry, dad!). My mind had been wandering the entire service, unable to attach itself to anything, to be still. I sat there, thinking of conversation after conversation I’d had during the preceding week, and the one just that morning with two wonderful friends and fellow dreamers regarding church planting. All these conversations alluded to the traditional trappings of newness, of starting over, the same tried and true ideas of a church plant, though nothing was said directly, perhaps I was the only one thinking along those same old lines. I’ve long wrestled with the idea of church planting, seeing and hearing of so many churches dying off, closing their doors, and churches laden with conflict, unable to move forward. The idea of church planting seemed, to me at least, as a knee jerk response, to break out of the old, conflicted ways, and try again.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
But something obviously has gone horribly awry in our church plants, in our churches. Instead of doing the long, arduous task of rebuilding what is already there, of doing the long, hard work of resurrecting our current congregations, we’ve abandoned them, and left them for dead, or at least silently prayed that they would die. What if, perhaps, instead of beginning anew, we seek out those struggling congregations, and infuse new life into them. And not by affiliation… but simply by the willingness of a few to leave, and cleave. To marry into those new “old” congregations, to commit to nursing them back to health, without requiring anything of them, beyond a willingness to open their arms and welcome these new ones into their church. Requiring affiliation or placing demands would only be seen as a takeover, and would only deepen the problem. But what if… what if we just… joined in?