One of the central tenets of the church growth movement, which has so deeply influenced the new suburban churches at the edge of town, is that non-growth is just as important to discover as growth. If the church isn’t growing in a given area, a new strategy is needed to move to another more promising area. The work of God’s people is to claim all places as God’s and to fashion ways for others to see the holiness, the new creation unfurling around them.
However the beast manifests itself in us – greed, fear, violence, addiction, lust, hate – our only response to the sacrifice of the Messiah is to feebly cry, “Have mercy on me, a sinner,” or “I believe, help my unbelief,” two prayers that keep that beast – never clearly seen, never wholly lost to view – at bay. Two prayers that express the hope that I’ll finally be changed from this creature that I am.
Recently, I met a gentleman who, upon discovering I taught theology, asked me what was the good of studying religious ideas in our secular world today. When I told him religious ideas have continually made the world a better place, he challenged me to name one. I told him there are plenty of simple religious ideas that have created such a ripple effect that they changed the course of history, and shared a few of them with him.