This one post could easily be broken up into three or four other topics. Maybe they will be later. For now they are all interconnected. Absolute truth. Seekers. Discipleship. The Holy Spirit. I don’t even know how or where to be begin. Are you ready for the fallout? Are you already taking steps to prevent the same from happening in your church and to protect your flock? Corby, what are you talking about? I’m talking about the attack on absolute truth from within and from outside the church. I’m talking about the seekers who finally figure out that they have no foundation for their faith and blow off this Christianity thing. I’m talking about the apparent lack of real, actual discipleship within the Christian church in America; being discipled ourselves and discipling others. Not in Christian life principles of marriage and money (which are great), but in living like, walking like, talking like Jesus. I’m talking about promoting the Holy Spirit from a position of being The Force in peoples lives, an ambiguous source of energy that is supposed to help us be Christians but no one really knows how to use (like Luke in A New Hope), to being a Person with whom we have a relationship, a Person we listen to, a Person that gives us the right tools to do the right job in His Kingdom at the right time. This isn’t a new or sudden thing for me. It’s been brewing for a while. Maybe it has for you too.
Isn’t it funny (both funny “haha” and funny “hmm”) that the only absolute truth that the world wants to believe is that there is no such thing as absolute truth? Has anyone else seen that bumper sticker with the different religious symbols that spell out the word “COEXIST”? Is that person telling me how to live my life? Is that person telling me what is right and what is wrong? They absolutely are. And if I shared by faith with them they would jump down my throat for forcing my beliefs on them. Who says that churches have the market on hypocrites? Let’s take this inside the church now.
One of the things I really respect about Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis ministry is the care they take to integrate how the evolution and creation debate impacts the entire Bible. One of their main points is that every major Bible doctrine as well as every major issue our culture faces has its origins and answers in Genesis 1-11. Marriage and family, homosexuality, gay marriage, personal responsibility for sin, personal accountability to God, the list goes on. As the church has distanced itself from taking these 11 chapters literally and seriously, it has lost its foundation for claiming to be the moral authority, for speaking for God. Have you seen the commercial? “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” That’s the United Methodist Church. Many other major denominations aren’t far behind. As we “fundamentalists” cling tighter and tighter to this outdated, primitive, and bigoted notion that the Bible is the one and only word of God, we make the rest of Christianity look bad. After all, God is a god of love, tolerance, and acceptance. He takes me “just as I am” doesn’t he? No, He takes me in spite of who I am. He takes me so I can be conformed into His image, not remain in my own.
What has already begun to happen is the so-called “post modern” generation is becoming unsatisfied with being in their journey because they don’t know where they are going or how to get their. The apparent appeal of self discovery and finding God within is wearing off. Pastors need to be ready to help these precious people detox off of relative truth. We need to be ready with absolute answers. We need to be living absolute sold out to Jesus lives.
A similar fallout is happing (has always been I suppose) in the seeker community. I recently read (wish I could find where) that Bill Hybles just figured out that he needs to figure out a way to get Christians less dependent on the church for their spiritual life. Ya think? The seeker model seeks to get seekers in the doors, in the seats, and plugged into the church to keep the thing going so they can get more seekers, so on and so forth. It’s all about keeping people in instead of growing them up to send them out on their own. When these precious people leave their church for whatever reason, they suddenly find themselves un-equiped to maintain their relationship with Jesus, if they ever had one in the first place. It’s the parable of the sower. Isn’t it interesting that three out of the four soils are unable to facilitate the seed to maturity? Too many churches are cultivating bad soil or aren’t cultivating soil at all. It’s all astroturf these days. We are going to need to be ready to come along side of these folks and help them rediscover Jesus.
I will openly admit that discipleship is as area that I have not paid attention to in my own life and ministry. I have not made enough of an effort to see that I’m being discipled, nor have I made enough of an effort to see that I’m discipling anyone, or people in my influence are being discipled. But this is what Jesus told us to do, to go and make disciples. Not go and make converts, disciples. Our lives need to be such that we, like Paul, can say “follow me as I follow Christ.” That isn’t arrogant. That isn’t pride. It’s what we are supposed to be. It’s what the Holy Spirit enables us to be. 2 Peter 1 talks about how we can be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, how if we do the things mentioned in that chapter, we will never stumble. Discipleship is about walking, talking, eating, sleeping, speaking, loving, teaching, and living like Jesus did. What am I doing to get close to that? What I’m I doing to get others closer to that? People coming off of the emergent and seeker rides need to have a place and the people that will help them with genuine discipleship.
Why do Purpose Driven, seeker, and emergent churches do things the way they do anyway? I think Ken Ortiz (CC Spokane) hits it on the head. They all have their spiritual roots in cessation theology. If the gifts of the Holy Spirit aren’t for today (ceased, hence cessation), then how is the church to be built? After all, it is these gifts that are the tools with which the church was and is built. The Holy Spirit has been relegated to an impersonal force that lives in believers connecting them to God, and not much more. The HS is there to give us strength and encouragement, but that’s about it. When the watered down gospel message is given is the HS ever mentioned? It occurred to me recently (I’m a little slow sometimes) that, in the book of Acts, when the gospel was delivered, so was the promise of the gift of the HS. Peter does it at the end of Acts 2, when Peter and John arrive in Samaria after Philip brings the gospel, Peter at Cornelius’ house, Paul in Acts 19. Having the HS with us, in us, and upon us, is just like walking with Jesus right there next to you. That’s what Jesus Himself said in John 14. Do I live like that? Do I teach others that? I know that when we teach verse by verse that we will get to every topic. But that doesn’t mean I can’t encourage people to study it topically on their own with some supervision and solid resources.
Have we as CCs become complacent in the areas of discipleship and the Holy Spirit? Are we just expecting people to figure it out and grow on their own? Are we relying on seeker methods to get people in the seats and plugged in, and then calling that growth? Are we providing relationships for them to grow? Are we equipping them with the tools to go out into the world and make more disciples? I guess what it boils down to is are we directing people into the presence of God on a 24/7 basis? That’s where the real growth and equipping will happen. We all need help getting there is all. Am I being deliberate or am I just expecting it to happen by itself? I don’t want to be complacent. I want to be ready. It’s not enough for people to know, they have to know why they know. As GI Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”