I’ll try and post a few paragraphs this week from Lovelace’s chapter “Renewal of the Local Congregation” in Dynamics of Spiritual Life. This is a major book for me, and I’ll be drawing from it a lot. I am planning on writing a thesis paper for my undergraduate theology degree on the fundamental principles that he puts forth in this book.
In this section he is outlining the goal of seeing congregations revitalized by God, but first sets out to paint a picture of the typical congregation. This was written around 1979, but it might as well have been written last year.
In most cases what [pastors] confront is a style of living very unlike the spiritually vibrant mission station described at the end of Acts 2. The “ultimate concern” of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ in evangelistic mission and social compassion, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation. The church is a spoke on the wheel of life connected to the secular hub. It is a departmental subconcern, not the organizing center of all other concerns. Church members who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to building their own kingdom and whose flesh naturally gravitates in that direction anyway find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God. They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock, so to speak, fulfilling their ‘church obligation’ by sitting passively and listening critically or approvingly to the pastor teaching.Richard Lovelace, in Dynamics of Spiritual Life