Podcast Episode 024, 50 min
Rural Church Rescue, with Jon Sanders (Ep. 24)

Jon Sanders: Not how you're supposed to do it, right?

Karl Vaters: That's how you call it, right? On pages, obviously, Roman numeral six and seven.

What would the response be… You say, What would be the response in a town if the fire department in your town closed, and yet, you said, but churches close constantly and no one cares. And that to me sets the tone for the entire book. Let's talk about that a little, because that's really true, right?

If the fire department and the town closed, people would be upset and justifiably so. Yet the church closes and nobody notices. What is it that we're missing in the church that we are not vital to the life of the town as we ought to be?

Jon Sanders: Well, you just said it, it's the community recognizes that the fire department offers value to the community, that they are directly in a place to help and serve in times of greatest need.

And so because of that, anytime they recommend shutting down a fire station to make room in a city budget or municipality, you know, there's uproar about it. But when churches close their doors, the community just kind of yawns and goes on about their business. Because in so many cases, the church has just drifted into the backdrop of irrelevance. Like, yeah, I guess there's a building there with the steeple and stained glass, but we don't really know what they do, they don't make much of an impact.

And it's kind of funny, Karl, I had a friend of mine who's a firefighter that is not a believer at all, and he read the book and he's like, Jon, this is such a great book, every firefighter should read this book. I was like, you realize this book's not for firefighters, right, this book is for the church.

A little bit of a backstory, Karl. When God called me into ministry, I really sensed that he was saying, Hey, look, you're still a firefighter, you're just going to be fighting an eternal fire and responding to different sorts of needs. So that made sense to me. And then when I got into the pastoring world and started to really work with many churches and pastors across the country because of my podcast and just the growing network, what I started to realize is if there is - and there really is - a lot of similarity in our mission, obviously one is eternal, one is just more physical in nature, but I started to see a lot of parallels. I came to this conclusion: If the average local fire department operated like the average local church, we would fire the fire department, we wouldn't tolerate it. But in the church world, we just call it church and we've just come to accept the fact that we're okay being off mission in many cases and maybe not really being about the core business that we're supposed to be about, and it's just church life. So that's really what I'm unpacking in the book, trying to make those parallels.

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March 9, 2022

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