This week, I posted a video clip someone sent me from a TV interview I did 37 years ago.
I appeared on the show about seven months before our move to Hawaii. I had more hair then (this was the 1980s). As I watched the video, I realized that some things never change, which is good.
We discussed the role of legacy churches. Older congregations stood in contrast to the rapid growth and multiplication many experienced during the “Jesus Movement.” My younger self saw the need for them and understood that our rapid growth was a product of their earlier efforts.
The 2-minute interview got into how a church changes as it matures in its function and responsibility to the surrounding culture.
Wineskins, New and Old
Thirty-eight-year-old Ralph showed concern for preserving old wineskins while multiplying new ones. Any time God moves in a new direction, new people either fill new wineskins (if we keep creating them), or they potentially disrupt and even destroy existing church structures. That discussion is as pertinent today as it was when we recorded the interview.
To fully understand the spiritual climate at the time of the recording, you need to know that no other church in Los Angeles county aggressively planted churches. Some probably existed. But there can’t have been many as we were looking for others to partner in our somewhat lonely task. Megachurches were on the rise and had caught the imagination of the evangelical world.
Culture Clash Cuts Interview
The interview’s shortness reflects a culture clash between church planters and the day’s denominational leaders and Christian TV networks. Megachurches were the talk of the country and, while we were large, our focus was on planting mid-size congregations, which didn’t impress the interviewer, so we didn’t discuss that. The Barna Institute had identified Hope Chapel Hermosa Beach as the 19th largest church in the county, but I wanted to talk about reproduction, not growth. It was our size that got me invited to the interview and our vision which cut it short.
Hope for Old Folks…
I’m happy to note that my younger self-expressed hope that I might still function in ministry when my body would slow and my hair turn gray (both have happened). Watching the younger me, I’m reminded of Paul’s words, “But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love” (Acts 20:24 Living Bible).
Catch the video on my YouTube Channel.