If you’re like me you’re passionate about seeing the church grow. However, Princeton Seminary’s Darrell Guder says our best and only hope is to forget about the growth, and concentrate on the mission.
I was first drawn to Prof. Guder when I read his book, The Continuing Conversion of the Churchand just had to have him on the show to talk about how this sense of mission can transform communities. He says most churches have it wrong – that we’re focussing on criteria that’s been dictated by our culture – and not by the Gospel. Watch this interview and you’ll find his insights challenging your basic assumptions about why we do what we do.
Watch the Full Interview Here:
Rather Listen? Click here for the Mp3
I first heard about Dr. Guder in seminary, when someone recommended ‘The Continuing Conversion of the Church.’ This book immediately hit home as Karl Barth’s famous words had begun to grip me, ‘There is a Church because there is a mission.’ Dr. Guder is convinced that church growth is simply a by-product of faithful living and that living missionally is what it’s all about. Here are my notes from the interview.
Ditch the Lens
Most churches have evolved into a way of being together that fits a popular lens, for example, the institution that dependably and sentimentally marks holidays, or provides stunning aesthetics, or offers a moral voice in the world. For a variety of reasons we need to ditch these lenses and begin to look at ourselves missionally.
Survival is Not a Guarantee
Too many churches put too high a premium on keeping the doors open. We fail to see that churches have a ‘sell by’ date – i.e. all 7 churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4) are gone. We need to forget about survival and concentrate on mission.
It’s All About Mission
The real question about congregational life is not ‘are we growing?’ but ‘are we being faithful?’ Dr. Guder reminds us that our job is to form local congregations of witness and faithful living, and leave the numerical growth to God.
About Darrell Guder
Darrell Guder is Princeton Theological Seminary’s Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology (he is not with Princeton University as I erroneously mention at the beginning of the interview). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Hamburg. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, he served as a student outreach pastor and as a faculty member of the Karlshohe College in the German Lutheran Church. His writing and teaching focus on the theology of the missional church, especially the theological implications of the paradigm shift to post-Christendom as the context for Christian mission in the West. He has served as secretary-treasurer of the American Society of Missiology (ASM) and was president of the ASM from 2007–2008. His scholarly translations include Otto Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics (2 vols.); Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World; Karl Barth, The Theology of the Reformed Confessions (with Judith Guder; Eberhard Busch), and The Great Passion: An Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth by Eberhard Busch (edited and annotated with Judith Guder).