Saturday, February 7, 2009

"If you can't say anything nice..."

The few of you who actually read this blog may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for several weeks. Truth is, I haven't had anything to say. Well, at least I haven't had anything nice and affirming to say. I've been in a bit of a pessimistic mood. Oh, not pessimistic about life or the goodness and grace of God or His sovereignty or any number of things such as that. But I have quite frankly been pessimistic about the current state and potential future of His church in this post-modern time, the culmination of a long-growing sense of uneasiness in this area.

The past month I've been reading through the first two installments in David Wells' four-book examination of modern and post-modern evangelicalism. I read No Place for Truth, or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, and I'm currently nearing the end of God in the Wasteland. These books are typical Wells-like heavy sledding in some parts, but paint a very insightful picture of how the evangelical church as a whole has removed the place of theology and doctrine from the center of all to the periphery, and therefore made God small and therapeutic. And lost the sense of His holiness and all the ramifications that has for His people, individually and collectively in the life of the church. And so exposition of the truth of the Word and doctrine has been replaced with an anthropocentric focus on fulfillment of the self. And the more I read, the more I see these observations to be true in the church in general. And I can also see these trends playing out in the local expression of His Body that I am a part of.

Before I go farther, let me affirm that I love my church, my church family, and the leadership God has placed there. I am fully and long-term committed to this church. But we are in a major transition period right now with the departure last fall of our senior pastor of 14 years, a man fully focused on preaching and leading with the Word of God at the center. And we now have an interim senior pastor who I respect and love, but who is not an expositional preacher and has a more programmatic ministry philosophy. And the change has been drastic, at least to me it has. I can now see how a local church can so quickly and quietly depart from the path of being Word-centered and Gospel-driven, to the more evangelical mainstream path of being relationally and therapeutically-driven that characterizes many of today's churches, as observed so well by Wells. I can see that the expositional preaching of the Word is the foundation for the vitality and trajectory of a church, that sets the standard for all aspects of a church's ministry. And I can see that a clear choice is in front of our church, which will be wholly dependent on the man that God brings to assume the senior pastor role.

So while I am a bit pessimistic about the evangelical church at large, and I am even a bit pessimistic about where we are as a local church right now, I am extraordinarily optimistic about God's sovereign control of these affairs. His purposes for His church will not be thwarted. I am trusting in Him, and His guidance of His servants in leadership at HPEFC to bring us through this transition and establish us again with a senior pastor who faithfully exposes the truth of God's Word week by week, for our good and for His glory.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Your post pretty much sums up how I feel about the changes that have happened at HP in this season. I pray that the new pastor will be more like Mike. Maybe this transitional time will be good for the church, not only so that we will be less tempted to compare the new to the old pastor, but also that we will have personally seen how fast things can change.

Tim--the deaf soundguy