Strolling Through Gordon MacDonald’s “Who Stole My Church?”, Part 6: Chapter 3


I’ve known Hollywood for nearly a quarter-century. We were roommates in college for a couple of years and kept in touch, mostly via Christmas cards or a yearly phone call. Then came e-mail and blogging and social networking and now there’s rarely a week we don’t communicate.

Anyway, he’s a deacon at his church and their board decided to walk through the book together. I needed something to read on a rainy Sunday (and Monday) so I thought it’d be fun to work through it with him. I’m glad I decided to do this, too. The book has my brain engaged big-time.

MacDonald decided to write the book as a work of fiction (after several failed starts and stops, realizing that there are already tons of books out there on church-change). He and his wife are the only two “real” people, and he creates an ad hoc committee of sorts, about 15 or so long-time New Englanders at a church of about 200. The characters are speaking for a broad range of what I’m guessing are actual comments he’s heard over the years regarding change and churches.

Chapter 3 is really a reminder that people are actually the Church…not programs. Which kind of piggy-backs onto my entry from earlier in part 5. MacDonald says:

“As far as Jesus is concerned a church is not a building, not an institution, not an organization. A church is people…little more! It’s a living thing, and it only gets to live as long as it’s doing the right things. And when it stops doing the right things, Jesus is–what’s our term?–out of there? As far as he’s concerned, it’s no more useful than a pile of stones.”

Yes. I agree that Jesus can leave a church to their own devices. Revelation 2 & 3 are examples. I also think a case can be made from the early chapters of Romans that He will allow us to suffer the consequences of our personal choices.

Such is life.

And, I guess, the earlier entry helps me define what those “right things” are. There may be a couple of more “right things,” or others might have some they’d take away from my list, too. That’s where the sticky part comes in. You gotta define the right things for you and your church…which, in some church governing systems it would be the elder board. Others it might be the paid staff (in effect, functioning as an elder board) and then ratified by a deacon board. Other churches it might be by an ad hoc committee, etc.

Doesn’t matter the WHO as much as it matters what the “right things” are.