The other day I came across an article that spoke of fears that there was an oversupply of pastors. Too many people were graduating from Seminary and the church did not know where to put them. While those fears sound contemporary, the article was written sixty years ago.
The article was a mediation on Revelation 3:8; behold I have placed before you an open door. Writing on the threshold of the Christian Reformed Church’s centennial, Jacob Eppinga said that the context of the church of Philadelphia reminded him of the early 1930s. The church of Philadelphia was blocked in and in the thirties people spoke as if there were no opportunities available to the CRC and no more doors open to it. In hindsight, he said, that pessimism proved to have been wrong: "We did not know it, but there were doors that were open for us. We can see it now, in the light of subsequent developments".
Obviously things have changed since that article was written. The times, the church, and the entire culture have changed. I'd guess that we feel the anxiety of the decade Eppinga remembered more acutely than the optimism of the time in which he was writing. Doors that once were open now seem closed, barred, and locked. In this context I need the encouragement that Eppinga found while looking back: "When our hindsight operates, we can see that the Church has always had open doors."
Looking ahead the picture is less clear, but then it always has been. We might not know what shape the church or ministry might take in the next decade, but we do know the Lord of the Church. We might not know what opportunities we will be given, but we do know who opens the door. We do not know what the future holds, but Eppinga’s conclusion is still a fitting way to end: "May God help us seize opportunities and to move on through the doors he has opened to us." (The Church With an Open Door, Eppinga, Jacob Dirk, Reformed Journal, 6 no 3 Mar 1956, p 6-8)