So it sat here amongst my drafts with instructions to publish it when I die. But I got tired of waiting to die so I've decided to publish a fictional account of decline which bears no relation whatsoever to reality.
Here it is.
I heard recently of a [blank] church interviewing for a new pastor. They asked about his current ministry. It was a story of continued decline under his leadership going back almost a decade.
I mean, why should this church now appoint him to led them in the same downward direction?
Churches all over the western world are in decline—with the exception of a few "mega churches." The trend is inevitable and my past ministry just reflects that.
Here's a leader promising decline. What did the church do? Hired him anyway. The denomination assured them there was no one else available.
It got me thinking of the way we hide from reality and shield ourselves from the need to change.
I remember a leading expert on the [blankity blank] noting how hard it was to reach "postmoderns." In fact, it just wasn't happening. So we've critiqued the modernist, consumer, attractional church and come up with a solution that doesn't work. What do you do with that?
Maybe it's as hard to reach postmoderns as it is to reach Muslims. Maybe we'll minister for a lifetime and see only a handful of new believers.
[Blank] churches are putting a lot of time and money into research and even more effort into hiding from the implications of that research.
The [blanks] are in serious trouble. So what do you do with the research? Try ignoring it.
Research on our declining church attendance over the last few years. . . remind us that we are becoming smaller in numerical strength and depict an ageing demography. In a world obsessed by the mega and the new, there is value in smallness and in the old being honoured.
In a market-driven environment, we must be wary that the numerical scales used to measure productivity do not govern the concept of Church growth and the influence we have in the world.
If that doesn't work, try undermining it.
In the [blank] Church we are said to have experienced a 4% decline in worshippers in the last five years. We know, however, that the census form of one of our churches went astray. Had it not done so, perhaps our results would have shown a nil decline?
If that doesn't work, go completely bonkers and say,
As [blanks] we tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. We aren't interested in replenishing our ranks by having children. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.
The [blank] Church is in free fall. What should it do? Lose its fear of dying according to their denominational leader [blank].
If we follow our calling, like Jesus we may die. But be assured, it will change the world. Our commitment has to be, whatever the outcome, to be people of grace, who do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God and if that means we die so be it.
His counter part in [blank] agrees.
The downsizing of Christendom is a welcome and good thing: it gives the [blank] Church missional opportunities.
That's not missional "downsizing" that's missional destruction.
What's the alternative to the "inevitable" decline of the church in the West? Have a good look at the church in the developing world. You'll find movements there that are concerned with three major elements—Spirit, Word and world. They don't just confront reality, they shape it.
Whenever the church has been strongest in the West it has held this synthesis together. Unlike those leaders whose vision of the future is continued decline.
I feel much better now. But don't tell Michelle I published!