Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dead Horse Theology

Hi fellow earthlings,

Most of the e-zines, newsletters, or e-mail updates out there aren't worth much, and I usually just glance at them and quickly throw them away or delete them. But there are a couple of things I get that I read from cover to cover, as the saying goes. One of them is Randy Alcorn's "Eternal Perspectives Quarterly Newsletter." It is always excellent, and well worth the time it takes to read it. You can sign up for it here... Or if you choose, you can read it online by going to Randy's website. Personally, I like to get it in hard copy. And by the way, check out his blog. It is excellent!

Another thing I read all the way through is called the "Church Leaders Intelligence Report." It is a weekly email newsletter and always has interesting and insightful information. It is produced through Sermon Central and is compiled and edited by Gary D. Foster. If you are interested go here to sign up...

The lastest Intelligence Report had this brief article entitled, "Dead Horses."

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians says when you discover you’re riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in modern business and ministry, because of the heavy investment factors, other strategies are often tried with dead horses, including: buying a stronger whip; changing riders; threatening the horse with termination; appointing a committee to study the horse; arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses; reclassifying the dead horse as “living-impaired”; hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse; harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed; donating the dead horse to a recognized charity and deducting its full original cost; doing a time management study to see if lighter riders would improve productivity; declaring a dead horse has lower overhead and therefore performs better; and promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
(from The KELLYGRAM 12/02)

Does any of this sound familiar? I roared with laughter because it is so true. We try everything possible to breathe new life back into the nostrils of our dead horses. We are so reluctant to stop programs in the church that used to work, that used to be successful, that used to draw people. We forget that progarams are not eternal; only God and His Word can rightfully hold that claim. Methods do not last forever; they have a very short shelf-life like fresh-picked Oregon strawberries.

We keep forgetting that we live in a constantly and quickly changing world where technology reinvents itself every year, where communication tools and techniques are quickly replaced, and where the rules and values of society are always in flux. So why do we get so stuck on trying to do church and communicate the Gospel in the same-old same-old ways, even after having ample proof that the methods and/or programs are no longer working? The horse has died, but we refuse to dismount.

Lord, give us eyes to recognize a dead horse when we see one, and give us courage to get off and look for a different horse if ours has passed away. Help us to hold fast only to the things that never change, never fail, never die, and never fade. Help up hold the other stuff with an open hand so that we can easily drop it when it dies and starts to stink. Help us to remember that church isn't where we go or what we do, but who we are. May Your life flow through us to others. May we be channels of Your grace and blessing. And don't let us plug up the plumbing with dead horses.

Crazy, but not crazy enough to ride a dead horse,

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