How many churches do you know that are suffering from senility? If you have moved about and have had your eyes open, you have probably seen at least one church whose energy was sapped by members who were unwilling to learn new ways and to support good ways. Thus its grip on both the present and the future was seriously weakened.
Many churches seem to ignore the fact that they are living organisms. They grow up and age. Vitality and virility may characterize them, or senility and sluggishness. If we who are a part of a church want it to stay alert and healthy and strong, we must work for continual renewal. One step might be to have an annual check-up, to see whether we are getting stiff and weak and slowed down by a hardening of the spiritual arteries.
Historically, the free churches have been the first in religious and educational and social inventing and innovating. Some of the consequences of this are the church school, free public education, and the first American colleges and universities. But does previous strength and vitality guarantee present good health? Of course not. Nor does a good heritage insure a productive future. Our churches cannot afford to lounge comfortably. We must come to grips with the processes by which we function, and the leadership that is necessary, and the faith that supports our very existence.
Are we ready for change and renewal and continuous responsiveness? Can we get at our problems? Do we care about our vitality? Will we use and develop our resources? Verbal assent to the values that undergird our enterprise as the Church of Jesus Christ is good, but can we make these values live? Each local church must answer such questions.
What characteristics are likely to be found in a church that is ...1
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