My 11th book was published last week. It is entitled Vital Vintage Church, and it explains my conviction that there is yet hope for the traditional mainline church. I wrote it thinking that struggling churches might get their leaders together to read it and talk about the principles that are helping some mainline churches thrive, while others continue to die.
Sunday at church, someone asked me about my new book, and, when I described it, they said, “Isn’t that a pretty narrow market?” I explained that I had no illusion that it would be a bestseller, but, because there are thousands of mainline churches that are declining, it seems there is a significant market for resources to help stem the tide. This wise parishioner of mine replied, “Yes, but it seems to me that the very things that are causing their church to die would keep them from being interested in reading your book.”
That is a parable of how life goes, isn’t it? Fit people tend to go to the gym. Healthy people have regular physical checkups. People with healthy relationships are more likely to read articles about how to keep relationships strong. People whose churches are growing buy books about how to help their church grow. What is this about?
Lent calls us to take our spiritual life seriously. It is my experience that those who are most deeply spiritual are the most likely to answer that call. To say that more honestly, I am most likely to set off on a new spiritual adventure when I already am feeling spiritually engaged.
To say that yet another way, if Lent isn’t calling to you this year, WORRY! Pope Francis, in his Lenten message, said to the world, “Indifference to our neighbor and to God represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.” When we are spiritually indifferent it is highly likely that our souls are spiritually unfit and we need to get to the gym.
Rev. Michael Piazza