Thursday, 21 January 2010

On Parish Life: Living Organism or Inanimate Object

I listened to more Resurgence on my last drive to Calgary and one of the speakers reminded me that a defining characteristic of life is reproduction. If a church is to stay alive, it must reproduce. So I looked “life” up in Wikipedia:
Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have self-sustaining biological processes from those that do not—either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as "inanimate."
No processes, no life. No life processes and a parish becomes nothing but an inanimate thing, nothing but a building. Just as a living creature must have self sustaining biological processes at work in it to be alive, so a parish must have self sustaining spiritual processes at work in it to be alive.
In biology, the science of living organisms, "life" is the condition which distinguishes active organisms from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity and the continual change preceding death.
If a parish is a “living organism,” it has the capacity for growth (spiritual and physical), functional activity (ministry) and continual change (from glory to glory). For a parish, however, healthy change leads not to death, but life eternal. Consistent refusal to change, on the other hand, may well lead to death.

As for a parish, so for the individual members of that parish.