Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Death of the Church

Here is a book that anyone who leads within the church and cares about its future direction should definitely read. Written for the layman, but with insights that are greatly helpful for pastors as well. Although published about 8 years ago, it still holds wisdom today.

So why was I thinking about a book I read almost 8 years ago? I had an interesting and somewhat sad conversation today with a fellow parent on the sidelines of a soccer game. As we stood at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, the warm sun still feeling new after nearly a week of rain, the backdrop of this girls soccer game was lovely. This Psalm was in the back of my mind, as the conversation turned to our common experience in the church. My fellow-parent-friend has been involved for a number of years in a slowly atrophying church in our town. In the interest of propriety, I will not discuss the specific reasons that this once healthy church is in decline, but chalk it up to, well, that problem the church has everywhere - the people in it (including me, lots of times). The town we live in has a nice handful of these quietly sick, small, essentially mission-less places, where those involved continue on in committee meetings, and seemingly bide time. I have heard more than once, "our church was really great and vital during the 1980s, but now...nothing is happening".

So, back to the book, noted above. Read this, and you will understand more about how the church must change in order to affect the world in a more relevant and meaningful way. I may have more to say on this later, but shoot, I have to go to work tomorrow....and it is late!

Wishy Washy Educators

My wife and I are believers in Christ. We are also parents of two girls, aged 10 and 13. We are also big proponents of public education. Although we could afford (with some stretching, like eating more cat food) to put our girls in nice, happy, private Christian schools, we do not, as we would like our girls to grow up in the "real world", and learn to deal with all the vagaries of real people, with real problems, joys, pains, and warts like we have. We feel that often, private schools can put kids into an artificial world. Anyway, that is for now. If one of our girls needs something special that only a private school might offer, we would reconsider.

All that said for this. Public education makes me crazy for its lack of virtually any moral instruction. Case in point is this post about a recent "situation" in Palo Alto, California.

This should cause us all to pause and pray (consistently) for our teachers and school administrators, both Believing and not. Also, I recently read an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Terry M. Moe, which says:

"If we really want to improve schools, something has to be done about the teachers unions. The idea that an enlightened "reform unionizing" will somehow emerge that voluntarily puts the interests of children first -- an idea in vogue among union apologists -- is nothing more than a pipe dream. The unions are what they are. They have fundamental, job-related interests that are very real, and are the raison d'etre of their organizations. These interests drive their behavior, and this is not going to change. Ever.
If the teachers unions won't voluntarily give up their power, then it has to be taken away from them -- through new laws that, among other things, drastically limit (or prohibit) collective bargaining in public education, link teachers' pay to their performance, make it easy to get rid of mediocre teachers, give administrators control over the assignment of teachers to schools and classrooms, and prohibit unions from spending a member's dues on political activities unless that member gives explicit prior consent.
These reforms won't come easily because the unions will use their existing power, which is tremendous, to defeat most attempts to take it away. There is, however, one ray of hope: that the American public will become informed about the unions' iron grip on the public schools and demand that something be done. Only when the public speaks out will politicians have the courage -- and the electoral incentive -- to do the right thing. And only then will the interests of children be given true priority."

Food for thought.
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