MODERN DISCIPLESHIP: PREPARING FOR EVACUATION RATHER THAN OCCUPATION

In his blog THE WORLD VIEW CHURCH, Michael Craven has written:

It is all too evident that biblical discipleship is either absent or woefully inadequate to producing any tangible fruit, much less real freedom in Christ. Thus too many within the body are mired in sin management rather than freedom from it, while others remain shackled by past wounds and sinful choices, and far too many are discouraged by the elusiveness of peace that Christ promised.

There are a number of reasons why I think we have come to neglect disciple making. Foremost may be the reduction of the gospel to merely the personal plan of salvation. By excluding the kingdom and its present implications from the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus taught and preached, Christians are left with a gospel whose only real implication occurs when you die: you get to go to heaven! Unfortunately, by reducing the gospel to nothing more than the means of achieving eternal security, there is no impetus for bearing good works here and now or bringing forth the kingdom. Under this paradigm, loving your neighbors is only worthwhile if “you get them saved.” Defending righteousness, opposing injustice, helping the poor, sick, and suffering, and so on, is meaningful only if it directly leads people to faith in Christ. Everything else that Christ commanded his church to do is reprioritized under the preeminent goal of “saving souls.”

Of course the church is called to proclaim the message of salvation through Christ, but it is also called to do many other things, which together achieve and bear witness to God’s whole redemptive purpose. From the standpoint of discipleship, if all that matters is an individual’s eternal (i.e., future) security, what else is there to know about the Christian life? As a result, discipleship is reduced to teaching Christians nothing more than how to share the personal plan of salvation. I submit that a century of this reductionism has rendered the American evangelical church among the most theologically uninformed, radically individualized, and socially irrelevant in history.

Read more I’d appreciate your feedback-Steve

Advertisements

10 BAD CHURCH WORK HABITS

From the archives of Sam Rainer’s excellent blog CHURCH FORWARD.

10 Bad Church Work Habits

Published June 10, 2009

CNN.com recently posted on 10 of the worst work habits. After reading the article, I could not help but to view these bad habits through the lens of church life. So I’ve reworked the top ten list as it pertains to the daily tasks of ministry. You can read the original article here.

1. Procrastination. It’s harmful at any level, but the effects of this bad habit are compounded at higher leadership levels. If a ministry leader or senior pastor consistently procrastinates, then everyone is forced into a last minute fiasco. If top leaders don’t plan ahead, then by default no one plans ahead.

2. Sloppy communication. My second biggest pet peeve is poor grammar and careless writing. Write in complete sentences. Proof the worship guide. Check press releases for time and location errors. Stop splitting infinitives. Fill in the email subject line. And don’t chew gum or crunch ice in a meeting, which is my biggest pet peeve.

3. Confusing informal with disrespectful. I doubt most pastors would prefer to be called “The Most Holy Reverend Doctor.” In my experience, most church staff are on a first name basis. In church work, a direct superior may also be a best friend, but authority and submission must remain intact.

4. Taking advantage of leeway. For me, one of the most refreshing parts of being called into ministry from the corporate world was flexible hours. I work longer, more intense hours at the church, but I don’t have to be at my desk for specific times anymore. I’ve seen many workaholic pastors and many lazy pastors, with very few in between. Neither extreme is admirable, but lazy pastors are especially harmful to Kingdom work.

5. Refusing to mingle. It’s a sad truth, but you can work at a church and never be among the people.

6. Consistently running late or going over. A person who does not honor time parameters erodes trust. Occasional offenses are forgivable. A pattern of time abuse shows disrespect for others.

7. Staying in a silo. Most midsize to large churches have departments, programs, and separate ministries. Clear distinctions of job responsibilities accompany these silos. The mission killer is usually not the silo. The mission killer is the “it’s not my job” attitude.

8. Acting as the resident contrarian. “Yes” men and women are annoying. People who always believe their ideas are better are doubly annoying.

9. Electronically badmouthing the church. A blog is tantamount to speaking on a street corner with a megaphone. Not too many people would air dirty laundry that way. An even more cowardly action is blog-bashing a church.

10. Politicking. Church work requires smoothing edges and rubbing shoulders with the right people. Consistent politicking, however, makes people question a person’s motivation.

The list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add any long-term bad behaviors that you believe are detrimental to the church.

WHY TEENS, YOUNG ADULTS ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH

BY SHERYL YOUNG from Yahoo News Service

ANALYSIS | For the last decade, churches in America have felt the pinch of young people exiting faster than you can say “Welcome to Sunday Morning Service.” Why do our young people want out?

At a glance, it’s no puzzlement to the man on the street. As discussed in my recent article, “New Organization, Book Explores Reversing the Church’s Bad Reputation,” numerous controversial issues have been handled ungracefully while trying to tell the rest of the world about Jesus and His love.

But for Christians who wish to return America to a more Bible-friendly atmosphere, there are even deeper conflicts and symptoms to be recognized.

Starting from kids on up, a great variety of reasons for the exodus exists. The following are gathered and generalized from well-informed sources: “Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith …and How to Bring Them Back,” (Drew Dyck, Moody Publishing, Oct 2010), “Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it” (Ken Ham & Britt Beemer, Todd Hillard, New Leaf, Aug 2009); “The Last Christian Generation” (McDowell, Green Key, 2006); and Lifeway Christian Resource Surveys from 2007 and 2010.

* Churched kids and teens spend six of seven days each week hearing other people say how judgmental Christianity is, and that the Bible should be taboo.

* Churches use outdated methods of Sunday School, rotating the same Bible stories year-in and year-out without relating the morals to daily living. When kids want to know why someone like Gabrielle Giffords was shot, they don’t need another lesson on Noah’s Ark.

* Teens can only eat so much pizza at church social events before they see through this thinly veiled attempt at keeping them occupied and out of trouble.

* Those surveyed say there aren’t enough good reasons given for holding Bible beliefs other than “the preacher says so…” or “your parents say so.”

* Sometimes kids are routinely kept out of “grown-up church.” From infancy to four years old, they’re in nursery. Then they get “children’s church” with a short Bible lesson, crafts and refreshments. For teens, a separate youth service geared to “their” music. By eighteen, they’ve never been expected to sit through a whole Sunday service. It’s culture shock.

* Young people can see that the Church in general hasn’t yet been able to conquer racial reconciliation, domestic abuse and the rampant church divorce rate…sometimes in their own families.

* Older generations won’t blend a moderate amount of contemporary music with traditional hymns, to show young people that newer ideas are respected.

* Or, the Church feels pressured to impress their younger members with new technological avenues. So they discard all the old hymns that were written out of peoples’ struggles with life, pride and suffering. Thus, the newer generations don’t hear about how God can help them through hard times.

* Parents are expecting the church to teach what may fall within their own responsibility.

* But then, young parents raised in the last twenty years have themselves grown up under the new pop psychology of never receiving or deserving any discipline or criticism. They’ve seen church become irrelevant. Now, as parents, they’re hesitant to make (or even ask) their kids to go to church or develop a backbone in faith.

* Lastly, everyone’s too busy for church. There are too many other attractions in life.

Many church leaders may pick up these books and surveys only to find the suggested answers to the problems are things their church already tried. Others may not have the means or congregational support to implement changes.

And still more will find it such a daunting task that they just throw up their hands. Maybe it’s time to do just that — throw hands up and pray, rather than create more programs — and leave the rest up to God.

Sheryl Young has been freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, organizations and websites since 1997. Her specialty is American politics, education and society as they intersect with religion. Credits include Community Columnist for the Tampa Tribune Newspaper, Interview Columnist with Light & Life Magazine, and a National First Place “Roaring Lambs” Writing Award from the Amy Foundation.