Monday, February 26, 2007

Walking in or knowing about?

Near the end of the apostolic age, John the apostle wrote, "It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us" (2 John 4).

Much diligent thought is being addressed toward understanding the frightening decline of the church in America while it is exploding with growth in virtually every other part of the world. This in spite of the astounding resources for Bible study, etc., available to American Christians far beyond any generation of believers in any other time or place.

Perhaps one factor is that the model of "doing church" in the USA has primarily emphasized KNOWING the truth. Learning Bible content and doctrine is the focus of a plethora of ministries in most churches.

John's joy was not the result of people knowing the truth, but walking in it -- that is, living it in life transforming ways.

Maybe we need a new model of doing church in which we decrease the number of ways we communicate Bible knowledge (they keep us very busy) and more strongly emphasize a few ways to apply and live the truth we know -- encouraging and holding each other accountable as we share life in relational communities whose DNA is to be formative, caring, and missional.

While I'm at it, remembering the "Stories Jesus Told" (check out the sermons at, perhaps our new model of church needs to radically reduce the number of things we do which keep us inside our "Christian bubble/sub-culture" so that we have time to hang out with sinners and get to know those who are poor and disadvantaged. It's impossible to practice the lessons of Luke 14 and 15 if we live inside the "bubble."


Andrew said...

I agree with how Christian's need to get out of their comfort zones big time.

Working at Hage's, I see both the pros and cons of having Christian _______ (you fill in the blank).

On one hand, there are wonderful resources there that help people as they're being spiritually formed.

But on the other hand, it encourages a mindset that these are "our books" that we can read and keep ourselves separate from "those people."

I guess where I fall on this is I see the benefit of the books that we sell (some of them), but I firmly believe that some Christians are too entirely engulfed in the "bubble" and wouldn't touch a "sinner" with a 10-foot pole.

I really respect how convicting the sermons of the last month or so have been. It's true that we need to actually love the lost and spend time with them. I can't wait to delve into this more in the coming months.

My only concern is that "loving sinners" will become just another thing that bubble-dwellers add to their checklist of things to make them feel spiritual. I know that I slip into that mindset every now and then, and I need to be careful, too.

Mary said...

I agree that in order to make a difference "out there", I need to be "out there". I had the privilage to share Christ more often when I first became a follower, mostly because I was "out there" spending time with "sinners".
Now, as a parent, it's a tough one to have faith in your teenagers and tell them, go and hang with the crowd that you really want to protect them from, but I believe in the power of prayer and trust that God will go with them. {They are both in good relationship with Him.} I believe that if we don't genuinly care about the people we hang out with it won't make much of an impact. (They won't care how much we know until they know how much we care) So I hope I am modeling that, and encourage real relationships. Jesus came here to seek and save those who are lost... if I am a true Christian (little- christ) then that should also be my constant purpose.