a thousand men appointed to guard the past?

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : October 1, 2007

“At every crossroad on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past.”

Maurice Maeterlinck, winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature

Do you resonate with this statement?

Where do we see this clash played out within the Church?

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4 Responses to “a thousand men appointed to guard the past?”

  1. ron on October 1st, 2007 2:19 pm

    Hey Mark, I’m finding there is a real collision in the middle of the crossroad where churches are working out what it is to be missional…and trying to preserve old structures.

    The church I’m involved in has been doing some good things outside the walls, people are becoming more generous in living out there everyday lives. Care groups that see a need around there homes, workplaces, on the street are responding becoming actively involved.

    The downside, the coppers going in the ” church structure ” are taking a turn on the downside. Paying for general expenses, ( pastors salaries, building expenses, secretary salary … and more )…are becoming increasingly more difficult. Infact now leadership has engaged the community with some of the most aggressive preaching on tithing I’ve ever heard…guilt driven…not an ounce of grace in it.

    So, my question is…if the church is going to become more missional in its engagement…can we sustain the present structures? We are a relatively small church that generates about 250,00 in giving a year. Out of that roughly and about 140,000 goes towards salaries, add on the expenses…it don’t leave much left for fighting poverty in the neighbourhoods.

    Alot of time and $$$ go into planning the Sunday morning event. As far as I’m concerned…in the economy of the Kingdom…we’re doing a poor job. I wonder as we progress forward, whether paid full time pastors in small churches will be a thing of the past.

  2. Daniel on October 1st, 2007 9:00 pm

    The issue I would raise with the statement is the unspoken religious belief in progress, or change for changes sake. The innovation of National Socialism in Germany was not progress, the old guard opposed it, we wish they had been successful.

    It could be argued that much of what the church has done to be “seeker sensitive” is just a repetition of every other “movement” to broaden the appeal of the gospel by ignoring some harder aspects of the call of God. In another generation or two we should expect the movement to reclaim “the Jesus Manifesto” to gain mainstream appeal. Both movements (sensitivity vs radical obedience) would complain about the past guarding the road to “innovation.”

    The teacher observed, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Every investment made in the past will have its protectors. Every new generation will take the good things it has done for granted and be restless for change. A few years ago I complained about those guarding the crossroads. Today I am ambivilent. Soon I may be guarding the defenses myself.

  3. Jonathan Brink on October 1st, 2007 11:33 pm

    Some of the 1000 are well meaning people just trying to get by.

  4. markvans on October 2nd, 2007 1:26 am

    It is true that progressivism can be as misguided as conservativism. But often, necessary change is held back by the status quo. The trick is in knowing whether the sought-for-change resonates with the heart of God.

    Personally, I feel the most push back from the old guard when it comes to pragmatism. The church these days loves tried-and-true ways of securing growth. But to me, the problem of the church has never been its lack of pragmatism, but its lack of idealism.

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