The third chapter of Radical is “Beginning at the End of Ourselves.” The verse that came to mind when I read this chapter was Matthew 16:26:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
The American dream focuses on our ability. We praise and exalt our ability to accomplish. It leads us to put our trust in our resources. To build a “successful” church we borrow from our culture and bring all the necessary resources to the table. In the Lutheran World which I am a part of, we do not find many “successful” churches. Many wonder why so many of our churches are in decline. We ask what strategies we can implement. We ask what can we do different. We ask what programs can we develop. But maybe we are asking the wrong questions.
One quote from Radical stood out was this:
But what is strangely lacking in the picture of performances, personalities, programs, and professionals is desperation for the power of God. God’s power is at best an add-on to our strategies. I am frightened by the reality that the church I lead can carry on most of our activities smoothly, efficiently, even successfully, never realizing that the Holy Spirit of God is virtually absent from the picture. We can so easily deceive ourselves, mistaking the presence of physical bodies in a crowd for the existence of spiritual life in a community.
It goes back to the place of God. Where is the place of God in our lives? Where is the place of God in the church? We could have all the resources this world has to offer and never accomplish anything very significant for the glory of God. Would we rather have millions of dollars in the bank, thousands of people in seats on Sunday morning, and dozens on staff – but apart from the power of the Holy Spirit? Give me a small church with no money, a few people, and no paid staff, but with the power of the Spirit. Incredible things happen!
So in the comments section – where in our church do we rely upon ourselves rather than the power of God? And what are some examples where we have a strong reliance on the power of God?