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Apr16FriIf we want to see the church grow, we should put our energy and resources into renewal April 16, 2010 by Major Fred Ash
Which is the greater miracle, birth or resurrection?
- Filed Under:
- Opinion & Critical Thought
We often hear people excitedly talking about birth. The birth of their first child. The birth of their first grandchild. Pictures are taken and passed around to friends who, whether they want to or not, dutifully smile, nod their heads and ooh and aah over the images of bald-headed, wrinkled and toothless little human beings on display.
We all love babies (well, most of us anyway). It doesn't matter if they're baby people, baby kittens, baby dogs or baby elephants. We can't help smiling when we see those cute little critters with their wide eyes and silly grins staring out at the world—blessed with innocence and ignorance.
Birth is where the excitement is. And birth is where the money is. We throw parties. We open our wallets. We buy toys and clothes and strollers and pamper that little one to no end. According to one website, the cost of maintaining a healthy, safe baby in Canada in the first year alone is $11,634. After that … who knows? But we don't mind. After all, it's our baby.
I got to thinking about the birth of new churches. I figure that we need more new churches about as badly as we need more holes in our head. Granted, on the rare occasion, for desperate medical purposes, doctors do bore holes in people's heads. But most times, thankfully, doctors examine the holes we already have there—eyes, ears, nose and mouth—and diagnose the problem and suggest a course of action to revive the patient and to restore them to new life and health.
But when it comes to the matter of extending the Kingdom of God, church leaders often think it wiser to birth a new church than to revive the old. After all, making babies is more fun than nursing old people. Birthing a church is a lot more exciting than resuscitating one.
And remember, birth is where the money is. People open their wallets at the announcement that a new church is being started. They buy projectors, sound systems and keyboards and coddle that new pastor to no end. They pour tens of thousands of dollars into rent and salaries in the first year alone. But they don't mind. After all, it's their baby.
I have nothing against church plants (we have lilies in our sanctuary), but church planting alone is not the solution to growing the church or The Salvation Army in this country. There are times and places where it is proper to plant new churches, but these should be according to the principle laid out by the Apostle Paul who said, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation” (Romans 15:20). In places where Christ is already known, the better solution may be revival.
Now that spring is in the air people are talking of new birth, but if you think about it, spring is not so much about birth as it is about revival. The old bear that has been asleep in his den during the cold winter months revives from his sleep. The old trees that lost their leaves and appeared dead revive and bring forth new buds. The old geese that left in the fall return to their old nests.
Before any new birth can take place, the old has to be revived. After the old bears wake, they give birth to new cubs. After the old trees come to life, they seed new trees. It's the old geese that lay the eggs and hatch new goslings. If we really want to see the church grow in Canada, we should put our energy and resources into reviving the old churches and let the old churches give birth to new life. Then the old will rejoice with the young and together they will have cause to celebrate.
There are a lot of old churches and old congregations in this country. Think of all the new birth that would result if all of these were awakened from their slumber. Think of all the new seed that would be planted if the old trees were suddenly to bloom again.
God bless this blooming Army!
Major Fred Ash is the corps officer at Burlington Community Church, Ont.