Friday, September 11, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 5

The signs of renewal in Protestantism are striking.
The insights of developmental psychology and group processes are being successfully applied to the teaching task of the Church. Pastoral care has benefited from the perspective of depth psychology, enabling churches to respond magnificently to the infinite problems created by industrial development.

The most striking fact about contemporary Protestantism is the re-emergence of lay responsibility. The lay movement is a strong attempt to counteract the shallow activism of the organization church and to search for meaning and direction in a mass society. Many clergy have shied away from this lay movement for fear that it would disrupt the smooth pattern of church life, but those who have nurtured it have found new support for their ministries in sharing their task with laymen.

Two other signs of renewal can be noted in Protestant life. New ministries to the nonresidential structures of society are emerging: ministries to hospitals, universities, industries, and, more recently, to political organizations; furthermore, a ministry to the communal organizations of the cities has appeared in the form of church planning.

The significance of these ministries, at present, is their concern with the structural problems of a mass society. Their potential power for renewal is considerable, since they signify the formation of a public ministry.

The organization of faith expresses or denies the Word to the world. When it expresses the Word, it channels the ministry into mission and servantship.

Renewal of mind is essential to the creation of a ministry to the whole metropolis; renewal of mind through the Spirit is the essence of life in the churches and ministry is the vehicle of that life in the world.

When the forces of renewal now present in the churches begin to shape the ministry, Protestantism will become the central force for renewal in metropolitan life.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 198-200

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