Six Ways Forward for the Church

I’m pretty tired of talking about Mark Driscoll.

Rachel Held Evans appears to be tiring of him as well. There was a lot to love about her latest post but I wonder if he is even worth mentioning anymore. Perhaps she needed to at least mention her muse.

Evans names 6 ways Christian (sub)culture can be changed to minimize the possibility of another abusive leader. Frankly, many of these have value and application well beyond the evangelical world she largely speaks to.

  1. We must educate Christians about abuse, bullying, and misuse of power in church settings.
  2. We must value and preserve accountability.
  3. We must take misogyny and homophobia seriously.
  4. We must measure “success” by fruit of the Spirit, not numbers.
  5. We must protect people over reputations.
  6. We must treat our pastors and church leaders as human beings—flawed, complex, and beloved by God.

In particular, number 4 caught my eye as it is as much a sin of small, struggling churches as it is of large, apparently vital ones. While shrinking numbers could signify a failure of leadership or a problematic disconnect with the community, success could just as easily signify cultural accommodation or appeasement as much as it might a real healthy ministry.

Instead of analyzing our numbers in a vacuum, we need to examine growth (and decline) to see if each truly stems from a commitment to core Gospel values. Of course, we can fight over what those should be but hopefully the sane amongst us will recognize that any serious conversation can’t take numerical success as the sole marker of faithfulness.

After all, Jesus didn’t have a lot of solid followers on Good Friday.

You can read Rachel’s post here…

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Patrick Scriven

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I'm a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated lay person working professionally in the church.


Image Credit: Photo by Maki Garcia Evans.