The Church That Should Have Died

ChurchLeaders | 8/19/2018 | Staff
Traight (Posted by) Level 3
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It looked like the church would die. The charts showed decades of decline. The roof was leaking, the congregation aging, and the former pastor had left in a scandal. The neighborhood was undesirable. There were a few bright spots, but you had to use your imagination to see them. The odds weren’t good.

But they called a pastor. The pastor was an academic who had recently earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge. One of his references said that he probably didn’t have what it would take to hold the pulpit. The pastor believed he should accept the charge, but he didn’t expect that things would change very much. He thought he would stay a few years, pray and preach, and eventually leave to teach in a seminary.

Wrinkle - Middle - Willow - Creek - Era

One more wrinkle: In the middle of the seeker-sensitive and Willow Creek era of church, this pastor believed that the church should set the bar high for membership, and reach into the past. He cared more about biblical principles than business principles. He dug out the church covenant and statement of faith and hammered away at Baptist polity. Could a pastor like that swim against the tide and see the church move to health?

I attended that church this past weekend along with 160 or so church leaders. Over 20 years into the experiment, the church is teeming with young people. There’s nothing fancy about the church: The pastor says that he aims for a mere church with few accouterments. The worship is simple, the songs old, the preaching long and the expectations high.

Thousand - Members - Church - Members - Members

Over a thousand now call themselves members of that church. Not just members, but active members. It’s also become a launching pad for church plants and church planters. They ignore virtually every principle of the church growth movement by holding Sunday School, Sunday morning...
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