NWIL District Supt., Rev. Scott Sherwood recently told this Kierkegaard story at C1. It's a call for local churches to stop playing and commit Herself to reaching people! Frankly, most churches make squirt gun commitments to reaching lost people instead of going all in. As a consequence, programs and methods remain the same, criticism of any church that is growing is common, and the local church dies a slow, irrelevant, death. This story is humbling and troubling to me as a Christian, much less, a leader.
"Once upon a time there was a fire in a small town. The fire brigade rushed to the scene, but the fireman were unable to get through to the burning building. The problem was the crowd of people who had gathered not to watch but to help put out the fire. They all knew the fire chief well – their children had climbed over his fire engines during excursions to the fire station, and the friendliness of the fire chief was legendary. So when a fire broke out the people rushed out to help their beloved fire chief.
Unfortunately the townsfolk were seeking to extinguish this raging inferno with water pistols! They’d all stand there, from time to time squirting their pistol into the fire while making casual conversation.
The fire chief couldn’t contain himself. He started screaming at the townsfolk. 'What do you think you’re doing? What on earth do you think you’re going to achieve with those water-pistols?!'
The people realised the urgency of the situation. How they wanted to help the fire chief. So they started squirting more. 'Come on' they encouraged each other, 'We can all do better, can’t we?' Squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt.
Exasperated the fire chief yells again. 'Get out of here. Your achieving nothing except hindering us from doing what needs to be done. We need fireman who are ready to give everything they’ve got to put out this fire, people willing even to lay their lives on the line. This is not the place for token contributions.'
To be honest, Scott appropriately cleaned up Kierkegaard's language a bit when he told the story. Kierkegaard didn't play games. The world is on fire. Christ is the answer.
Please God, kill our sacred cows and help us to race toward the fire in order to give our lives in service to your cause.
The fact that the Christian church in the USA has been in steady decline for decades is not a reflection on the Gospel or outsiders, it's a reflection on us. It's time for an overhaul.