In a workshop with Paul Borden last year, someone asked him, “You are a natural leader in starting new churches. What is the main thing you look for in selecting new pastors?” Borden responded, “An Orthodox faith, a vivid belief in the Trinity, and of course, a sure faith in the resurrection.”
Don’t you find that an amazing response? I thought Borden would say something managerial, “an entrepreneurial spirit,” something like that. Or, I thought he might cite some psychological configuration or organizational expertise in the pastor. No. Borden demands theology, faith in resurrection.
It really makes a huge difference as we go about reaching a new generation of Christians, starting new churches, energizing established congregations, making disciples (our Conference priorities), if Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. If Easter is not true, then why bother?
Since Jesus Christ is raised, let loose, invading a world, returning to the very people who betrayed him, then we work not alone. The risen Christ goes before us. We serve a God who lives to raise the dead–even us. Therefore, we work with hope–not hope in ourselves and our efforts, but with hope in Christ.
A couple of years ago, a District Superintendent paid me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. He had told a pastor of our interest to move him to a different church. “I can’t do this,” responded the pastor. “That church is dead. It’s been dying for years and now I hear it’s really dead.” The DS replied, “I’ll tell the Bishop but let me warn you, this guy really believes that Easter is true. To tell him a pastor or a church is dead means nothing to him. He just sees death as an opportunity to see what Jesus can do.”