Here is a link to a thoughtful and challenging post on why the way of disciples and the way of the church must be the way of the cross, which is the way of dying and rising with Christ:
“A Growing Church is a Dying Church,” by the Rev. J. Barrett Lee, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Boonville, NY. His blog is called The Theological Wanderings of a Street Pastor.
Here’s an excerpt:
“What will growth look like? Will all those old, inactive members suddenly return? Will the pews be packed again? …You might see a few new faces in the crowd. There won’t be many of them. Some might stick around but most won’t. Those who stay won’t fit in with the old guard. They won’t know about how you’ve always done it. They’ll want to make changes of their own. Their new ideas will make you uncomfortable. Your church won’t look or feel like it used to. You’ll feel like you’re losing control of this place that you’ve worked so hard to preserve. It will feel like your church is dying.
“And that’s just the thing. A growing church is a dying church. It has to be. It cannot be otherwise. The way to Easter Sunday goes through Good Friday. The way to the empty tomb goes through Golgotha. The way to resurrection goes through crucifixion. When Jesus told you to take up your cross and follow, did you expect it to lead anywhere else? What Jesus told us about himself is also true of churches: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it bears no fruit.”
Whoa! I find this absolutely bracing, scary, and right on!