Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fun Facts on Life Insurance and the death of a church

Fun Fact:
On this date in 1761, the first American life insurance policy was issued. The policy was available to ministers for the Presbyterian Church. It was provided by the Presbyterian Synods in Philadelphia and New York who set up the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers. Nevertheless, it proved to be unpopular as many ministers considered "insurance" to be a form of gambling.

They're still at it - the Presbyterian Church continues to provide death benefits for its minister members, virtually uninterrupted for 250 years. The financial resources of previous generations lend strength to the Board of Pensions, funding its important work. Unfortunately, the denomination has rejected the theological resources of the previous generations. Jettisoning the Westminster Standards (and adopting a sloppy substitute) has resulted in precipitous declines of membership and - more important - missional thinking and acting.

To all my friends in the PCUSA, I say this: There is no death policy for a church. The only thing that can be done for a dying church is to proclaim Christ's Resurrection with unflinching courage and conviction. If you want metaphorical, narrative growth - proclaim a rhetorical resurrection. But if you want real incarnational, missional, personal growth - proclaim his resurrection and ascension in the self-same body that suffered and died for our salvation.

Looking for ways to strengthen your congregation for meeting the great ends of the Church? Become a member of the Westminster Fellowship! (They'll even let Calvinist Anglicans like myself in...hey, it was our collegiate church!)

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