There was an interesting news report on the BBC yesterday about new ways to obtain stem cells – those miraculous, regenerative structures that have the power to correct birth defects, replace cancer cells, and work wonders against dementia, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
How cool would it be if Ecclesiastical Stem Cells existed? (Note to Church: they don’t.)
I’m becoming used to being the bad guy in Church World’s Middle Judicatory-land: making people follow procedures when they don’t want to, offering difficult truth when they don’t want to hear it, suggesting possibilities they don’t want to consider. I usually don’t mind.
What’s interesting, though, is when a congregation or its leaders want Immediate Miracles. Perhaps their congregation has depleted all financial resources and they want a quick infusion of cash to replenish the coffers. Or maybe a congregation once comprised of 500 souls now considers 30 to be a solid congregation on Sunday mornings.
Sometimes churches want Presbytery to Fix It. And they get frustrated when we can’t. We have no ecclesiastical stem cells.
Honestly, most congregations are not like this. They don’t expect the impossible to happen, ecclesiastically, in the blink of an eye. But it would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Maybe or maybe not.
I believe that some churches are called to close. I believe that it’s good when we have to rethink the way we’ve always done something. I believe that we can become too full of ourselves and forget that church is not about us. I believe that, in failing, we become more dependent on the Spirit. I believe it’s good that there’s no such thing as an ecclesiastical stem cell.
Our neighbors struggle every day. And maybe it’s no accident that the Church is called to struggle too, as we figure out how to be more faithful.
Image of a neural stem cell. Source here.