Thursday, August 27, 2009

church growth and Kentucky Fried Chicken

I just finished reading Bishop Willimon's book about salvation, "Who Will Be Saved?" The last couple pages had some really good quotes about church growth and decline. Some are pretty funny.

"Any congregation that is not growing-not restlessly probing the world, not reaching with Christ, not curious about what new beachhead Christ has obtained lately, not getting hammered by the world for having lunch with people like Zacchaeus- is not a faithful church."

"'So, it's all about numbers is it?' This is the predictable response to my connection of ecclesiology and growth. It is unimaginable that Saint Luke, Saint Paul, or Saint John Wesley would understand the alibis that are offered for church decline and death under the guise that we are so faithful to Jesus, so theologically responsible that we are dying by attrition. Is it all about numbers? Take it up with Jesus." (130)

"When asked why the Episcopal Church in America is in precipitous decline, the presiding bishop replied that most of the growth is growing churches is through births to parents who are already church members and that the Episcopal Church, since it draws upon the better educated classes of society has a lower birthrate so therefore....Not one of the presiding bishop's better thoughts, I think." (130-131)

"I just closed a church after a seventy-year run. Their dying words were, 'There is no one anywhere near our church who might join our church.' What they meant is, 'We are in the middle of the greatest population growth that is all of a color and a language other than our own and it makes us uncomfortable that Jesus expects us to recognize them as part of us.' Church growth is an expected essential byproduct of a Savior who is relentlessly out on the prowl for fresh disciples. Church decline is an expected result for a church that refuses to follow a Savior who is relentlessly out to grow God's kingdom."

"It really gets me that Kentucky Fried Chicken loves the people of West Birmingham more than my church loves them, has found a way to build and maintain the best-looking place in West Birmingham whereas we United Methodists have mostly abandoned that part of the city. Belief in Christian salvation should produce as least as compassionate and bold a business that sells soggy chicken." (131)