Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A "Good" Church?

For a class in Congregational Studies we had to think about what it means to be a "good" church. It is an interesting question and here are some of my random and wandering thoughts.

When I think about what a “good” church should be, I think about what the RCA states is their intended results of their efforts to revitalize and multiply existing churches. They say that it should result in the church being a place where “lives (are) being transformed by the love of Jesus Christ as the lost are found, the hungry are fed, the broken are made whole, hurts are healed, and hope overcomes despair. Neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities (become) healthier, more just, and more gracious for all people as they experience God’s expanding realm of grace, mercy, love, and justice.”

While I may not always agree with Rick Warren’s methods and theology, I have always thought highly of fulfilling the Great Commission as you live out the Great Commandment as being very important. It seems to me that a church will accomplish the RCA goals if it can create fully devoted followers of Christ while loving God and others with all of our heart, soul and mind. Of course this in praxis rather than in theory is the hard part of ministry. It is important for the church, both on a personal level and a congregational level, to grow inwardly while having an outward focus.

I also think that a church needs to be theologically sound and Biblically based, which may seem obvious but as we see mainline churches that deemphasize and even deny traditional orthodox beliefs it is clear that it may not be so obvious.

Adding to the mix of hard to do, a church should also try to be contemporary, relevant and cutting edge (creative) while honoring and respecting tradition. I understand that this will look very different from church to church as each individual church is working within a different local context and has to deal with how contemporary, relevant and cutting edge looks to the people within that context. A cutting edge church in rural Iowa is going to look very different from a cutting edge church in Manhattan which is going to look very different from a cutting edge church in Long Beach, CA.

I do feel that a church needs to keep grounded in the historical beliefs and traditions of the faith as they move forward into the future.