Likewise culture is not immune to the effects of ignorance of history. Ancient civilizations have died as a result of ignoring certain moral behaviors even in the face of historical evidence of past collapses. In addition, civil leaders have also tried to tweak old systems thinking that they somehow could make failed systems work. Socialism, for example, has had more recent failures than perhaps any other social/economic construct and yet, there is a never ending list of politicians advocating it under different names and slightly different methods.
My concern is for the evangelical church. I remember a sermon delivered by one of my heroes, James Montgomery Boice, as he reflected on what came to be known as the Church Growth Movement. He said, “Using man’s methods yield man’s results.” No matter how often we use man’s methods with the best of intentions we still get man’s results. We can fill churches by meeting needs or offering programs, and fail at teaching what it means to repent and believe in the gospel.
As the church makes learners and followers of Jesus, He has promised to be present with us, Matthew 28:19-20. This is God’s method and it will yield God’s results. The “seeker” approach is tried over and over again. It yields large churches filled with members who live just like the world. The hope persists that if just the “right” method is used, the result will be different.
The history of the church reveals a different approach. It has been a history of teaching the truth. May we learn from the giants of our faith and avoid the errors they toiled to correct and remain faithful in using God’s methods by their example, expecting God’s results!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).