A watershed in American evangelicalism?

The New Life Church in Colorado Springs was one of the nation’s leading megachurches.  But then its pastor, Ted Haggard, was brought down in a sex and drug scandal.  Now the congregation is changing the way it is doing things.  Instead of trying to be new, it is trying to find its place in historic Christianity.  This means bringing in liturgy, every-Sunday communion, the church year, and pastoral care.  Its new statement of faith is the Nicene Creed.

Christianity Today published a sympathetic in-depth article about the changes last month.  Lutheran scholar Martin Noland sees these developments as possibly “a watershed in American evangelicalism.”

Read Patton Dodd, New Life after the Fall of Ted Haggard in Christianity Today.

Martin Noland, Steadfast Lutherans » A New Era in American Evangelicalism?, summarizes and discusses the article:

To me, as a historian, this case is significant and is perhaps a watershed in American Evangelicalism.

Senior pastor Brady Boyd says that embracing Christianity’s past is key to New Life’s future (ibid., p. 40). New Life now offers communion every Sunday at its main campus. They have adopted the Nicene Creed as the church’s statement of faith. Some of the pastors have worked on graduate courses in theology for the first time in their careers (Lutherans need to keep in mind that a Bible college degree, often an A.A., is all that is expected for most Evangelical ministers). The congregation has started a satellite church in the downtown area that includes the use of the liturgical calendar and many of the practices of liturgical churches.

The biggest and most important change, in my mind, was that New Life has rethought what it means to be a pastor. Eugene Peterson, widely published author and now-retired Evangelical pastor, told the New Life leaders that pastoral ministry is not about making pronouncements, but “it’s all about knowing people, and you can’t possibly know 10,000 people” (ibid., 42).

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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