Thursday, March 09, 2006
Sometimes a picture really does say it all. This is a bridge in Honduras that lost its purpose after Hurricane Mitch struck that country several years ago. In case it isn't clear, the bridge goes to nowhere because the river moved. The tremendous rainfall and flooding from the hurricane changed the channel of the river, and what is a magnificently constructed piece of engineering has no purpose.
Ever been to a church like that? It has a beautiful edifice, strong, stately columns, flying buttresses for support and by all measures it is a prime specimen of craftsmanship. But it is empty most of the time. Like the bridge, it is well constructed but not useful.
Rev. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church, pointed this out to me in a chapel message he delivered at Asbury Seminary. Podcasts are available here. He spoke of the church being primed to fight the last war, the war on modernity. We have our columns of proof texts, legions of trained apologists, and an army of witnesses to go tell people that the Bible is not in conflict with science. Problem is, Modernity is dead, like the old Soviet Empire.
In its place, we have a world where proof texts are pointless, when the person you are talking to is biblically ignorant and apathetic. We have an army primed to fight the last war, and the new one is upon us.
In the new battle, we have to "win the hearts and minds" of the culture. We are no longer the favored player. Quite the opposite is true. Every religion but Christianity seems to get a better shake from the culture. So we have to start over and try to win people to Christ through our love, our lives, not our words.
Garlow challenged us not to become like the bridge in the photo. We can build bridges, but we have to be prepared for the ground to shift underneath us. Or we end up looking like a sad relic from the past.