July 5, 2012
Urban Legends about TCN- Part II: (Read Part I here)
A “myth” or “urban myth” or “urban legend” may be defined as a second hand story told as true and just plausible enough to be believed, but is in fact, not true at all. Well, there are a few “stories” out there about revitalization that may be helpful to address. In no particular order:
Myth number four: TCN is just like Church Growth of the 80’s and 90’s
Actually, Church Growth approaches were often “attractional” in nature whereby the church sought to provide programs and activities that “attracted” people to its ministry. This often turned into an endeavor to have more appealing youth activities, contemporary worship and so on. Sometimes this led to competition with neighboring churches and often shifted Christians to those churches that had the biggest and best programs. Revitalization is just the opposite. What is encouraged is an “incarnational” approach to ministry where church members are, as Luther coined it, “Little Christs” to their neighbors, serving, caring and helping where there is need. Congregations experiencing revitalization are often involved in community based servant evangelism. Not as a means to promote themselves or show how good they are, but as a humble way to fulfill God’s calling for them to make a difference and love their neighbor. Specific worship styles are seldom if ever addressed, let alone advocated.
Myth Number Five: The pastor will be forced out if he does not support the process.
This myth might have grown out of a question in the interview manual for the weekend consultation. It asked if the pastor’s intention was to stay and do the hard work that will be involved. Revitalization takes courage. For the pastor to address personal change and congregational change is tough work. It is also true that, in a few cases, some congregations have had prior issues of conflict that have not been fully addressed. Sometimes this tension comes to the surface when revitalization is pursued and pastors and people experience pain and hurt. Sadly, at times, this has resulted in a parting of the ways for members and in a very few instances, pastors. While the ideal would be biblical confession and absolution and a unified approach to new life together, unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. In some cases, it has been recommended that congregations delay their revitalization process and are encouraged to address tension in their midst first. The revitalization process is not a means to address tension and conflict. It is a way to affirm the ministry of the pastor and people and work together for the sake of those without Jesus. The doctrine of the call for the pastor and love for members is valued and held high.
Myth number six: TCN is not Lutheran.
The origins of Transforming Churches Network are from an LCMS District mission executive from the Mid-South District, working with the Executive Director of LCMS North American Missions at the time. TCN is a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which means its philosophy, doctrine and approach are in alignment with the LCMS. TCN has worked with over 550 congregations in our synod and have experienced positive results synodwide.
*This article was originally written by Revs. Scott Gress and Ron Biel, Revitalization Coordinators for the FL/GA District of the LCMS.
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