I’m a knowledge and information junkie. I read piles of books. If I had the time and money I’d go to a ministry conference every month. I used to go to more conferences and read more ministry books, but I’ve mostly given up on them.
It used to be that I’d read a book or come back from a conference fired up with enthusiasm and new ideas. I’d tell my leaders about what I learned and what we could do and the usual response was, “That’s nice, preacher. Occasionally they’d humor me and play a loing for a little while. They really had no reason to listen, however, except to be nice. They’d been in the church longer than I’d been alive and knew how to do things. Stuff happened before I arrived (or came back from the conference, or read the book) with my my new ideas and ways of doing things. Stuff would continue to happen. Why both learning new things when you alreay know everything you need to know?
But from my perspective they didn’t know all they needed to know. The church continued to decline as they did the same thing over and over again. “If it was good enough in the 1950s, it’s good enough for today.” They refuse to see two things. First, doing what they did in the 1950s isn’t filling the church like it did (if it did) in the 1950s). Second, what they did in the 1950s didn’t produce as much lasting fruit as they thought.
I think of the old William Booth story. He’s gone to a meeting somewhere and a society lady comes up to him. “Mr. Booth, I don’t care for your method of doing evangelism.” He replies, “Madam, I don’t care for your method of not doing evangelism.” If all we need to do is “keep the doors open,” or maintain institutions and buildings, or keep old time members happy, we might be able to get by with doing what we’ve always done. But if we’re out to keep people from running headlong into hell, then we’ll have to do something different. We’ll have to learn some new things.
Sarcastic comments> I’d better stop there.