Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Past of a Great Church

The Ghosts in the Attic

By way of introduction, my friend Rob Asghar has perhaps the most thoughtful perspective on all of these events I have been thinking about over the past year or so. You can read it
here, it goes a long way to setting up the situation.

I have been active at Hollywood Pres since 1984. I had no idea it had been that long, until my wife found a note the other night referencing when I had joined. So, I have a bit of history. Perhaps my history gives me a biased viewpoint, but hopefully it might also provide a bit of perspective.

Hollywood is known for its historic and almost iconic characters; people who loom larger than life. Perhaps the most monolithic character of all is Henrietta Mears, pictured here. "Miss Mears" as she was affectionately known to many, was an unabashed ambassador for Christ for more than 30 years. You can read more about her remarkable life
here. Suffice it to say that Miss Mears had a direct affect on the lives of a number of influential people including, Donn Moomaw, Rafer Johnson, Bill Bright, and a fellow named Billy Graham. Miss Mears was the founding vision behind Forest Home, and Gospel Light. She was a remarkable woman who lived a remarkable life. Our main auditorium is named after her, and the man who was her student and who now teaches Sunday school each week in this building named one of his children after her.

One of the most recognized pastors in our church's history was Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, who left our church in 1995 to become the chaplain of the US Senate for eight years. Dr. Ogilvie had a nationally syndicated television processed at our church for a number of years. He published or edited more than 50 books, and is still sought-after nationally as a speaker.

And so, you can see that our church is a place with many "ghosts". Grand ghosts of a bygone era in the evangelical world, important and wonderful people who have done much of public note for the Kingdom. However, one of the problems of having these grand people in our past is that they often have the tendency to fog our view of the future.

In the middle - 1990's, I was priviledged to be involved in the process of planning for the departure of Dr. Ogilvie to the Senate, and in the crafting of the Mission Study that attempted to set for the vision for the church in the years ahead. More on this process later.

As our church has faced so much struggle over the past year, I have been pondering how we got to this place. Where did we all loose our way? What went wrong? How can be build a better place for the future?

So, What Does This Mean?
And then, more recently I have been wondering what God is up to in all of this. Why would he cause all this pain in a once-great church? What the heck?! Maybe, I am slowly getting it. Maybe, just maybe God is breaking down all our stereotypes, all our plans, all our dreams, our visions, our ideas,all our smart ideas about what our church should look like, and be, and do. And maybe He means to do a
new thing.

Maybe. And Christ would be lifted up. Oh please, may it be so...
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