24 October 2013

Christ Builds His Church

Here's a goodie from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on just who builds ("grows") the Church. This is much needed wisdom in a time when so much energy and attention is given to "being missional" or "growing the church." It's also a much needed antidote for pastors and congregations who insist on judging their "successes" or "failures" merely on the outward, visible numerical statistics.

(It shows up as the writing in Treasury of Daily Prayer for yesterday, October 23. I meant to post this yesterday, but....)
It is not we who build. [Christ] builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess—He builds. We must proclaim—He builds. We must pray to Him—that He may build

We do not know His plan. We cannot see whether His is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for Him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.

It is a great comfort which Christ gives to His Church: you confess, preach, bear witness to Me and I alone will build where it pleases Me. Do not meddle in what is My province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from His grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.

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