In the next posts I'm going to review a fascnating book called, The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Oganizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism and Other Modern Maladies by David E. Fitch, pastor of a church in Illinois and professor of ministry, theology and ethics at Northern Seminary. This is the book I have been looking for as it offers an emergent church I can live with. I knew there had to be an alternative to the McLaren-type, and even the Driscoll-type - and I believe this is it. At least it's the best I've found if you believe as I am beginining to - that churches must change for the postmodern generation - or die.
Our definition of Success - When Going from Ten to a Thousand Members in Five Years is the Sign of a Sick Church
Fitch discusses quantitative vs. qualitative. He says,
Numbers, on their own, say nothing qualitative about what is going on in the church when viewed as the Body of Christ.
His problem with large churches is their impersonality and lack of accountability for the members. Fitch is big on church members being accountable to each other in confession and fellowship. He says that the modern evangelical church is mostly for those who think as individuals, not as part of a corporate community. Even worse, in his estimation, are the mega-churches run as corporations. This is antithetical to the purpose of the church and he points out that younger evangelicals will no longer attend these types of churches. They are just too impersonal in many of its facets. Even in its small groups, the activities tend to be geared toward the individual instead of the community of the church. He says,
Our focus on numbers, bigness, and large institutions is therefore rooted in two of America's sacred cows:the autonomy of the individual, and; the necessity to organize for economic efficiency. Because of these, he says, sanctification suffers.
All through this book Fitch decries modernism with it's rational thinking and its bent toward individuality - in other words, what is good for the individual rather than for the community of faith. He asks 5 questions to gauge whether we are using qualitative measures in our churches.
1. When was the last time someone spoke a hard truth into your life? Was it done with love?
2. When was the last time you confessed your sin to someone you felt safe with in this [church] community?
3. When was the last time you prayed with someone over an issue of needs or discernment in this body?
4. When was the last time someone in this body visited you in the hospital or brought over a meal when you were sick?
5. When was the last time a homeless person was brought into this congregation and made whole?