“Whenever a church becomes static, its members begin to look only to the past.”
David H. C. Read
Though I have considerable admiration for David H. C. Read, I would have reversed his comment above. I believe what is more poignant is: “Whenever church members begin to look only to the past, their church has become static.” The Bible celebrates a mobile God who continually calls His people to be on the move. An eye cast backward instead of forward is the clearest signal that vitality for imaginative ministry has waned and nostalgia has overtaken a church.
What does it mean to look forward? Simply, a church that looks forward understands that the church doesn’t exist for the members. The church exists for advancing God’s mission. Make no mistake. The Bible is clear that as the church advances God’s agenda each member has the responsibility to demonstrate genuine concern and care for one another. Yet, there is a huge difference between an organization that simply exist to care for one another and the church that cares for one another while it pursues God’s mission.
Many years ago I heard a pastor ask his congregation this question, “Why is the windshield of a car larger than the rear-view mirror?” The answer is that what is ahead of us is far more important than what is behind us. It has been said that the devil resist anything new in the church because he may lose ground to Jesus. The most used and worn tool of Satan is placing seven words into the hearts and minds of church members, “We never did it that way before.” The implication, of course, “…and we shouldn’t do it now.” But if that verdict wins, the result would be a static church whose members only look to the past.