Terry's reply was of some bewilderment. Reminding us that "just because it's called St. Something's" doesn't mean it's a church.... and if the leader isn't a Christian then the thing is probably failing some sort of test of being a church, right?
Obviously praying for the vicar to become a Christian is good, but the observation suggests that these newly revived believers need to go and find a church they can thrive in - and from there look to win the world for Christ, even the bits that call themselves churches.
If your "church" doesn't love the gospel then it's not a church right? And a Christian has got to be rooted in a church. We, understandably, develop such strong allegiance to our communities... but there is a world to win for Christ who need to hear the gospel and see real church happening. Sometimes you have to hear the Spirit's stirring and get out of Babylon to go and build the house of God (Ezra 1) - you have to get where God is present.
A Christian leader coming into a religious institution to win it for Christ is probably also not leading a church at first - though it might yet plant a church among the religious. If you're not the leader can you really get very far - and even if you can, don't you need to be part of a church in the meantime? And wouldn't that make the mission more effective? Wouldn't that mean you could stand with others pulling in the same direction - it's fair enough to expect someone who isn't a Christian not to believe in your mission, but when we kid ourselves that the religious are the church don't we betray the gospel, don't we defame Christ?
Do good believers in dead churches just prop up bad institutions? Or might they win them for Christ?
Or, should they get out - plant a new church - and seek to win the religious and the irreligious in their community?
Got me thinking - what do you think?
If you've ever wondered what the church could be, I cannot think of a better book than Terry Virgo's The Spirit-Filled Church (£4.38 at Book Depository)