One of Jesus’ more common teaching models to interpret scripture is to begin with “you’ve heard it said…but I say to you.”  This phrase came to me when I read a report of a meeting of church planters.  They were popping off one-liners, and one blogger recorded them. The one that struck me was

It’s easier to give birth than raise the dead.

The mantra among the denominations has been that churches not adding daily to their number are dead, and we should “let the dead bury the dead.”  People want to “be fed” and are encouraged to leave the troubled church and join the big one down the street, because “a church alive is worth the drive.”

I submit to you the better explanation is that

It’s easier, cheaper and more biblical to heal a sick adult than grow a new one.

I submit that if the doors are still open, the church still has life there.  We should not be in the business of euthenasia just because it’s more fun to start new things than to take care of business.  It’s fun to make babies, but hard work to change their diapers, drive them to daycare and little league, teach them to do homework and to drive, and then turn them loose on society as responsible adults.  But it’s what we have to do.

Do you know that it takes a huge amount of effort and tens of thousands of dollars to start a new congregation?  But if you spent half that much time and a third of the money, you could probably restore a struggling congregation (if it’s willing – see discussion here). 

What does the Lord require for the struggling church to be healed?  To want to be useful, to have faith, and to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.

We may need some new churches, but more than that, we need renewed churches.  (…and fewer dismissive catch phrases)