Beyond Ministry as Usual
The questions asked were simple: 'How does a person become a Christian?' and 'what does it mean to be a Christian?'
The person who was asked grew up in the church, was active in his church, very active in his church and had been an active church go-er for over two decades. He was not only a professing believer, he was also respected by others as a 'devout' believer and 'good example.'
He knew most of the answers to 'bible questions,' but, in this simple question, he hesitated and stumbled around to find the right words.
'Well, you know He loves you and Jesus died for you and when you blow it you ask Him to forgive you.....you read His Word and you do your best to obey Him and do what He says.....it's a relationship and you, umm, you just keep learning.....and, well, obviously you go to church and serve Him and....well, you just live different. You know when you'lll die you go to heaven.....'
Now, most of this is certainly true, but some things were definitely missing. Concepts and words like 'God's Holiness' 'God's wrath,' 'repentance,' for example, and 'sin' and 'justification,' and 'confession' and 'atonement' were missing. Basically 'Jesus loves us and forgives us and try to be a good person.'
But, also missing was any sense of clarity on how to live as a Christian, and even more so in a culture that is rapidly changing, in which biblical values and standards are being rejected.
'Do your best to be a good Christian,' was the answer, but that begs several questions, namely, 'how do you do that and where to you get the power to do that and what does that look like and who determines what is and is not being a 'good Christian?'
If this is how a professing believer with a fairly solid knowledge of the Bible responds to basic questions, what are the impllications if that same believer is also a parent trying to help his (or her) child or youth grow in Christ and follow Christ? What does that parent pass along?
For many years, too long if we are honest, churches in America compartmentalized ministry and divided along age lines to a fault. Children were outsourced to the children's department and youth to the youth department and so on. Parents were encouraged to go to some kind of study as well, but there was rarely, if ever, a connection between what was happening in the children's or youth department and the adult department.
And, to make matters worse, as consumerism crept into the church and the church-growth movement expoloded and offered 'one stop shopping' for 'all your family needs,' with ministries that had all the bells and whistles to make things comfortable for all involved, another message was subtly sent and gladly received: 'keep outsourcing everything to the church. We'll do what you should be doing for you. We just want to keep you happy.'
As the weight of secularism increases and as basic questions such as 'what is truth?' or 'does absolute truth exist?' become more and more normative in the American church itself, the flimsy foundation of the consumer-driven church with all its non-answers and very individualistic approch to the faith, is destined to collapse. As the darkness increases, consumerism, which ultimately appeals to our desire for comfort and for others to provide the experience for us, will not, cannot stand.
This is one of many reasons we are prayerfully entering a season where we are going to rethink ministry (along with parents and children and youth) and pray and study the Scriptures together, seeking the Lord for wisdom that we might best strengthen families and individuals and equip everyone to not only be a disciple, but to make disciples and to stand firm in changing times.
We are preparing a process that will begin with our young children and continue on up through our senior adults. In many ways, this is simply a return to a more biblical model of teaching and disciple making.
This is an exciting time! Stay tuned and stay in prayer. God has blessed us in immeasurable ways in that we not only have a college/career department that is growing and growing, we also have a single young adult department that is also thriving and growing! Now, we seek a systematic approach to growing disciples from the youngest of people to our senior adults, impacting families and impacting lives to impact eternity!
God is Good! Stay in prayer and stay tuned! More to come!
For the King and His Kingdom!
Grace and Peace,