Saturday, January 19, 2008

Walk This Way

In the movie Young Frankenstein there is a classic comedy scene where "Igor" (Marty Feldman) tells Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) to "walk this way." This scene inspired the hit song by Aerosmith.

There is a similar misunderstanding in the church, which would be hilarious if it were not so tragic. Congregations try to mimic "successful" churches and end up without either success or anything resembling a church. Reverend Russell Rathbun writes (HT: Maggi Dawn):

Nothing is sadder than to see a beautiful congregation of fifty member that has been around for a hundred years in a small town in rural Iowa turn them selves inside out chop up their organ, spend what little money they have on technology (cordless mic.s and keyboards are favorite starters, then on to the projector and the power point) all because one of the board members attended a Willow Creek training and bought the "How To" book at the sales table on the way out.

The church ends up having to watch kindly Mr. Sundquist fumble with the sound system, able to get from it only ear piercing feed back, while the forty nine year old volunteer youth director tries to rap.

He likens this to trying to wear someone else's clothes. The book of Acts, he argues, is not a "how to" book. We shouldn't try to mine it for the "biblical principles" for growing a successful church.

The only thing worse than wearing someone else's hip new clothes, is wearing someone else's old clothes.

But this is not only true for the early Church in the book of Acts. It is also true for the "seeker-driven" model of Willow Creek and Saddleback Church. Not only are the strategies and methods a poor fit for most congregations, but the days of the church service as a late-night talk show or as a rock concert are over.

So what do you think?

Why are church leaders so eager to copy the methods of others? Why are new churches trying to become megachurches "right out of the box"? Why do small churches have such an inferiority complex?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"


ROD said...

To answer your question, I don't know. Our small church is going through a process of self-evaluation right now. We desperately want to be "relevent" to the community. So far the most effective outreach has been through a young family that has taken in foster children. Not only are their previous foster children attending, but the parents of the foster children are beginning to get involved. It is rewarding to watch. We also offer ESL classes, and one of those families now brings their children to our Wednesday evening activities, where they not only have fun, but they hear the gospel. I think to cross a river, you have to get your feet wet, and we are beginning to do that in a small way. If our focus ever changes from people to growth, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot.

Pastor Rod said...


Sounds like you've got a good handle on the missional thing. Don't let anyone distract you from the important work you are doing with talk about growing the church.

May God bless you and the people you are living with.