Sunday, June 20, 2004

Gardening...Church Growth and Pruning Shears

Over the years our garden has allowed three major bushes to dominate the skyline in our garden. I cropped the last two this weekend past. As I looked at the first once I attacked some month’s back I notice the new shoots and healthy blooms. It has done well for it’s pruning. It seems that not all growth is good growth. An over grown garden isn’t that attractive.

Is this transferable to the church? What does the over grown church look like? Is an over grown church attractive? Is it possible for a church to overgrow and go to seed?

"The themes of the Western dream are accumulating, up-scaling, status, power, consumerism, individualism and self-actualisation. The themes of the home-coming future of God are justice for the poor, peace for the nations, the redemption of the people of God, a restoration of community, a renewal of creation and a celebration of the shalom purposes of God for a people and a world. These are not two versions of the same dream. These are totally different dreams. One is born out of an ancient faith. The other is the product of an Enlightenment vision of western progress." (Tom Sine - Mustard Seed versus McWorld).

Perhaps the overgrown church is one that has become pre-occupied with "accumulating, up-scaling, status, power, consumerism, individualism and self-actualisation." At the expense of "justice for the poor, peace for the nations, redemption of the people of God, restoration of community, renewal of creation and a celebration of the shalom purposes of God"

To me it doesn’t matter whether the church is institutional, emerging or whatever – if concepts of true hope, true liberation, true grace, and mercy have been lost to 'an onwards to bigger and better' mentality it’s time for the pruning shears.

I look at the church in our post-Christian West and I wonder what happens to the lopped off branches.

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