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2011 Annual Conference 40-Day Devotional Guide: Day 1

New and Old

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:16-17 NIV

The New York Times recently published an article entitled “Corrupted PCs Find New Home: Trash Bins.” The article states that many today rather than repair broken or slow computers will throw them away and purchase a new PC. In the face of spy ware, viruses, and other Internet-borne infections, many will trash their computers. The number of viruses has more than doubled in the last six months, and spy ware has more than quadrupled. However, it appears that the anti-virus industry is having a hard time trying to keep up with the destructive worms and viruses being let loose on our computers. So, rather than have their computers repaired, especially with the cost of computers going down more and more, people are opting to buy new computers.

It is amazing to me that an instrument that is so needed in today’s world is becoming so cheap that when they break, we ditch them. In only a few years a commodity that was so costly and so complex has become financially feasible and simple to operate. This is so typical of the world in which you and I live. We are experiencing such rapid changes that many of us – and especially our churches and our leadership in the church – are finding it difficult to keep up. It is my opinion that it is not in purchasing new equipment or better technology that is our challenge; it is changing our mindset in such a way that we become open to the new possibilities, shapes, and forms of offering Christ to an ever-changing world. What if instead of us seeing new church starts as financial threats to our existing churches, we begin to realize that starting new churches and transformation of existing congregations are of equal value? If we reread the text, “No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

There is a need for both the New and the Old. We all need a combination of stability and movement in our lives. If we remain fixed, we run the risk of stagnation. If we are always in a state of flux or movement, then we run the risk of losing our point of reference that keeps us anchored in the faith. We need both anchor and movement, stable and fluid, and new and old.

Prayer: Lord, our church needs balance, moving forward to start new congregations and helping existing congregations to be vital. Help us to believe and practice this balance by creating new places for new people and revitalizing our existing congregation. Amen.

James E. Swanson, Sr.
Resident Bishop
Holston Episcopal Area


May 3, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. If we keep doing what we’ve always done and that hasn’t been working our chances of survival are minimal. It’s time to think outside the box (forgive me Ronnie but I’ve used that term for over 30 years) and let the Holy Spirit guide us to the next level. If we even briefly throw off the shackles of tradition we may discover worship in a whole new and wonderful context.

    As to computers, individuals can download free anti-virus software at I’ve used it for the past 10 years on over 1,000 computers and never had an infection. The commercial version is discounted for 501 (3)c like churches and charities. The computer industry wants you to throw away your computer at the first sign of problems but the fact is that 90% of what we do would work just as well on a 10 yr. old computer.

    As we look to revitalize our churches we need to be careful to not “throw the baby out with the bath water”. We have a core of wonderful loving followers who just need a little help getting to the next level.

    Comment by JIM SCOTT | May 3, 2011 | Reply

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