“There is a more descriptive and theologically accurate word than success in describing what we’re after, health.” (J.R. Briggs)
How a church measures itself forms, arguably, a subtle yet powerful message about what church and religion as a whole are to value. Briggs’ quote above bores right into that insight.
Success in much of our culture becomes carefully aligned with quantitative results. Nothing wrong there. I prefer to drive cars with dashboards.
And there is another measure maybe all the more important … health. We prefer to be in a “healthy” car, driven in a healthy way, with healthy passengers. Dashboards are great. But they are never the point.
What are then the measures of health in a church?
In this denomination it comes to a rather simple premise. Do we place love and humble service in the first place or do we reserve that spot for truth, for doctrine and their sidekicks … order, control, power, rightness. In the New Church this is not a choice between polarities. It is a decision of incarnation, a decision of living into - living into a set of priorities we feel will bring God’s light more fruitfully into the world. Not an “either, or” but a “both, and.” Again, dashboards … all for them. And there remains a bigger picture.
Restated, church bell towers needs bells, not just clocks. What is the “bell that rings?” Is it a ringing that resonates with God’s movement around us? Or is it just way to tell time?