Yesterday, Nadia Bolz-Weber visited SPU and spoke on the notion of the dying church. Pastor Nadia spoke on the tendency of churches to view success through the lens of the world’s notion of success — numbers, profit, and growth. Rather than viewing these things as markers of success, however, Christians need to remember what the church is and who the church belongs to. “Society will not proclaim the gospel, administer sacraments, or facilitate the forgiveness of sins,” she said. Rather than worrying that the church is dying, we must remember that long after we are gone from this earth, God remains, and God is in control.

Pastor Nadia spoke to the atrocities that are often committed in Christ’s name, and said, “When there are so many reasons to steer clear of Christianity, why do I stay?” To her, the gospel allows her to see herself differently, to see the world differently, and to see others differently. It is the gospel that gives life and allows her to forgive others, and to view others — even those that are difficult for her to love — as children of God. Forgiveness is an act of “Christian defiance,” for it is something that Christ’s followers are only able to give because of Christ’s work in our lives. Christ takes the “tangled thing in us” (aka sin) and untangles it. As Christ does this transformative work in our lives, we see that our own salvation is inextricably tied with the salvation of others.

We must not fear the decline of the church, for God’s notions of “success” are not our notions of success, and where we might see only death, God can, and does, bring new life.

Thank you, Pastor Nadia, for taking the time to visit SPU and minister to us!

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