Aargh, I am losing the battle of the half-read books again! To a degree that is starting to make me slightly stressed actually. Why, oh why, do I lack discipline when it comes to reading? It’s not that I don’t like finishing books (I do); I just love starting new ones more.
This week, a review book by Gordon MacDonald came through the door. Hard copy books are so much better than Kindle ones; the intangibility of electronic books enables me to lose interest in them very quickly, whereas there is something intrinsically satisfying about a pristine book with a beautiful smooth cover and crisp pages. And this one’s title is Going Deep: Becoming a person of influence, a title which has me hooked straightaway! How could I refuse it?
So I didn’t. To the detriment of all the other books which I should be reading. (I think I may need to have a book amnesty week soon where all I do for the whole week is read in order to get through some of the weight of paper under which my shelves are groaning, especially because several of the books are relevant to my research and I really need to get a move on with reading them!)
But Gordon MacDonald…one of my favourite authors on the spiritual life in a contemporary context…his books are always worth a reprioritisation on the ‘books to be read’ list. This one is no exception, although so far I don’t love it in the way that I loved The Life God Blesses and Ordering Your Private World. It has some great thoughts in it. Here’s one to reflect upon:
Men and women, the church of a few years from now will look nothing like the church of today. The recent economic realities, the problem of epidemic joblessness, the changing sociological patterns in our country, the shift in philosophical thought, the technological revolution…even the broad changes in the world of international politics: these are all affecting us dramatically.
We have to keep asking ourselves what it means to live integrally as Christ-followers so that the people we connect with see something in us that is redemptive and constructive. If we don’t know how to do that, then we can anticipate falling into irrelevance.
So we have to begin to enlarge our core of deep people who can help do this. They will build tomorrow’s church when most of us at this table have gone.
I fear that this is disturbing and uncomfortable, but also true. Unless we get serious about going deep and helping others to do the same, the future of the church doesn’t look great. (Or is it just that I need a holiday?!) In all honesty though, were it not for the gospel, I would fear greatly today for the church in the West. It looks bleak from where I am standing.
And that’s the best word to describe the power of the gospel. BUT the church is the Bride of Christ and will be made ready for her husband. BUT Jesus will not leave us or forsake us. BUT his Spirit will lead us in the right paths for his name’s sake.
I don’t know how this BUT will look in my generation, yet somehow I think it will be well, especially if we can get serious about becoming and developing deep people. What do you think? Do we need something more than this or something other in order to turn things around for the church?