A summary of last night’s presbytery meeting:
The money’s nearly gone.
The Executive is gone.
Two churches are gone and three more are trying to get gone.
Two pastors are gone, one to a disciplinary action and the other to resignation forced by illness.
Gone, baby, gone.
The gathering diminished throughout the evening, an apparent microcosm of our life as a presbytery. Indeed, of Presbyterianism itself.
Those churches leaving for greener pastures may be kidding themselves, but it’s really easy on nights like this to understand the impulse.
The best thing that’s ever happened at a NEXT Church gathering was Stacy Johnson’s address in Dallas (embedded below–and made into a clever NEXT promo video here). “There are two ways of living that we know of as Christians,” Johnson said, drawing on 1 Corinthians 1:18. “We can live as those who are perishing or as those who are being saved.”
As those who are perishing . . .
Signs of our perishing are everywhere, perhaps no more evident than at a presbytery meeting like last night’s. Those signs are intrusive and disruptive. They provoke an anxious response, perhaps even a hopeless one.
Yet the message of the gospel is that what looks like perishing can be God’s salvation in disguise. The challenge we face, Johnson said in Dallas, is not first and foremost a cultural or demographic or organizational challenge. As versed as church leaders have become in the language of “adaptive challenges,” the real challenge is the gospel. The real adaptive change we face comes from the good news of life and salvation emerging from death.
So we live as though we are being saved. We invest heavily in a partnership with Presbyterians in Peru. We build networks for collaborative youth ministry. We validate a church’s work with refugees and share it’s costs. All while every outward sign condemns those efforts as futile.
And we gather. Our being saved is evident in our gathering, though these days not as evident as our perishing. Clearly not.
This is how it’s supposed to be, though. Following Jesus is not a strategy for vitality and success. Look at the cross. The hope we have is that our salvation will never be as present as when all signs are pointing to perishing.
9 thoughts on “As Though We Are Being Saved”
Speaking of collaborative youth ministry. Check these folks out.
I forced the “collective” term on my peeps here
I love it and I loved the ministry in Bend
Also I love this post and perspective.
And we will indeed live as if we are saved – because in the midst of what feels like perishing God’s spirit and hand is leading us to new possibilities. Even in the context of a heavy heart, I know this to be true!
Wow. Tough meeting. Not unlike some of ours here in Riverside. Rocky, love your posts. And love doing ministry with you. Thanks for reminding us about being saved. We need to realize that we serve a Christ would, by all accounts, was an abject failure. His movement ending in all his disciples scattering and his dying on the cross. And yet, if you stopped at the Gospels, you wouldn’t have read Acts and all that came after. We are always one step from dying, and one step from resurrection. Keep moving forward, I say. Thanks for a great post and for the youtube.
Rocky! ROCKY! do not look at the cross. Yes, the cross is there. Boy it is there plastered on every hymnal and bulletin. And all it’s over our lives too, the sacrifice and death. But no. Don’t look at the cross.
LOOK AT THE RESURRECTION.
we are being saved, but we have been saved. And we are saved. because of the miracle of the resurrection which happens every day in all the ways we aren’t looking, and some that we are.
I am sorry this is a rough time. I wish it were easier. Thanks for the work you do
God bless you, Murphy Daley!