Home > Church, Culture, Theology > Dear Christian Part 2: What you need to know about the Christianity you grew up with.

Dear Christian Part 2: What you need to know about the Christianity you grew up with.

In a previous post I described the current dynamics of the church I pastor and the tough issues we’ve faced as a result.  We’re a church of mixed nuts.  We’ve got veteran Christians who have known the Lord since the 1970’s and 80’s, post-modern non-Christians who know little to nothing about the biblical Jesus and university students who are escaping the clutches of cheesy, youth group Christianity, bad Bible teaching and fundamentalist Christian worldviews.

Needless to say, we have no shortage of issues to address, doctrines to teach, false teaching to correct and disciples to make. My previous post on the topic addressed some of the common issues we face with those who have no church background.  This post will focus on some of the issues we face with those who have grown up in the church, but not in Christ.

Ned Flanders

Image courtesy of theguardian.com

1. Immaturity is neither attractive, nor helpful (particularly among men). The ’90’s was an era of church gymnasiums, game rooms, festivals and clean Christian fun.  It seemed that the goal was to attract America’s youth with fun, keep them with food and hope they catch the faith.

Sadly, most of that generation came for the fun, took the food and left the faith.  These are the post-evangelical twentysomethings that live in their parent’s basement, play video games 10 hours a day and attend church just to socialize with more freeloaders like themselves.  This lifestyle (particular among young guys) is killing the church.

Thankfully, Jesus took responsibility for himself and for us when he died on the cross for our sins.  If we can connect these guys and gals to Jesus they can experience life change, learn responsibility and start making a real difference. (Colossians 1:28-29; Galatians 4:18-19; 1 Corinthians 4:14-17)

2. Obedience is not optional. In the past 10 to 20 years, the church has been far too concerned with getting people “saved” and not concerned enough with seeing people sanctified.  New converts were rushed to the “sinner’s prayer” and then told to hang on until eternity. America’s Christians learned about faith in Jesus, but they were never taught obedience to Jesus.

Christianity is as much about how we live on earth as it is where we go when we die.  Life with Jesus doesn’t start when we get to eternity, it starts now and continues into eternity.  Our faith in Christ must, therefore, result in obedience to Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 John 2:6; John 14:21)

3. Generosity means first-fruits, not leftovers. In an age of luxury and consumerism, giving has become little more than an after thought.  We might give once we have what we want, but never will we give before then.  This self-absorbed view has long since infiltrated the ranks of God’s people and it’s hurting the church.

When we were spiritually bankrupt and far from God, Jesus generously sacrificed himself so that we could enjoy the riches of God’s grace.  It’s critical that God’s people believe this truth so that we will give generously to God as he has generously given to us in Christ. (2 Corinthians 8-9)

4. Independence hinders discipleshipDiscipleship by nature requires relationships and community.  Our Burger King culture on the other hand celebrates independence.  We’re constantly told to “have it your way.”  The more we believe this slogan, the less we’re willing to involve ourselves with people who will speak into our lives.

The Bible, however, is rich with texts that urge and command us to do life together.  It’s in community that we learn to trust in Jesus and live for God.  We won’t become the people God wants us to be until we are willing to be the church instead of just going to church. (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:24-25)

5. The prosperity gospel is demonic. Prosperity theology teaches that the sign of God’s favor is health, wealth and unending blessings.  Hardships, difficulties and suffering are signs that you are out of favor with God.  The false solution?  You just need a little more faith.  The problem is this devastates people when death, job loss, criticism at work or family conflict arise.  This is a demonic lie.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the sign of God’s favor. Through him we can have joy and confidence even in the midst of difficulty, not in the absence of it.  Jesus rules over our pain and is with us in it, but he does not always keep us from it.  Happiness is not found in our prosperity, but in the presence of God. (1 Timothy 6:2-10; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

This generation has much to contribute to the advance of God’s Kingdom in our day.  Doing so, however, will mean unlearning a few things so that they can re-learn God’s ways.  It will mean growing up in Christ, not just in the church.

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  1. ronboviscous
    January 31, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    Very insightful and truthful, Trevor. Out of the several points you made, one stuck out to me: obedience isn’t an option. We’re taught by Scripture that obedience to the commandments to honor God appropriately and to be benevolent to our brothers and sisters in Jesus is how we show our love for Him. We (and that means all of us) are also to spread the good word of salvation through our Christ. This requires an outward-bound and selfless way of thinking.

    Unfortunately, our pursuit of religious and emotional experiences in today’s Christian culture promote more of a self-centered point of view. We don’t disciple or teach obedience or sanctification as a rule. The result is a culture where faith equals blind faith, getting (as opposed to being) saved is a rubber stamp identifying someone who has received a good-for-life fire insurance policy, and attempts to teach obedience out of faith are often met with an angry response about legality.

    At any rate, I appreciate your article and mission. Ours at Finding Discipleship (www.findingdiscipleship.org) is similar. Keep up the great work!

    Blessings,

    Ron Braley
    http://www.ronbraley.com
    http://www.findingdiscipleship.org

    • January 31, 2014 at 7:05 AM

      Thanks Ron. At its root, obedience seems to be to be an enjoyment and appreciation of Jesus that overflows into a life lived for Jesus. Until we truly understand how far from God we were without Christ we will never know the satisfying joy of living in obedience to Christ.

  2. January 31, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    “In an age of luxury and consumerism, giving has become little more than an after thought.” This line sounds very like what we discussed in our Bible study yesterday about the idolatry and complacency that can come from an easy life. We don’t have to strive or sacrifice for anything and it’s easy to let that same spirit of “good enough” and “when I want to” seep into our discipleship.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • January 31, 2014 at 7:29 AM

      You’re welcome. It’s hard to tell a generation that has it all that God is all. Only when his generosity to us in Christ is realized can we be generous in return.

      Happy disciple-making to you!

  3. wmalibago
    January 31, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Yes unfortunately many youths come for fun and food and leave the faith. This is an undeniable truth. However this shouldn’t conclude the level of faith and acceptance they have for Christ. I myself was like them before. I only come for the music and fun. But as I attend as time pass by, my main reason slowly changed and my faith for Christ slowly developed and nurtured. Thus, I can conclude that faith and acceptance takes time. And although many youths only come for fun and friends, I do believe this will not end there. God uses different ways to reach His children and He even use ‘bad things’ to turn us to good. Thanks for the wonderful post Trev! 🙂

    • February 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      We share similar experiences. I wrote as I did because I too got connected with a church in high school because of food and fun. I ignored the faith, yet God chose to rescue me through Christ at another time and in another way.

      This simply means our churches need to be on the look out for those who don’t yet believe so that we can meet them where they’re at. I appreciate your comment and am glad the Lord has found you!

      • wmalibago
        February 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        yes me too 🙂 one thing I also noticed in most churches is the invisible barrier it has on its audience. For most people, like me before, a typical church is where the preacher stands in front of the altar while the audience simply listen, stand, sing, and clap their hands. This is simply too boring and systematic as for most of youths. But of course, this doesn’t have the same effect to others.

        As for me, our churches aside from looking out to those who don’t yet believe should also become somewhat interactive even in little ways. That as a church, we should also let the audience participate so in this way, the typical look of a church to most unbelievers and believers as well somehow change for the better. This is just based on my observation though. Thanks for the response.

      • February 3, 2014 at 6:31 AM

        I agree. Some of the college students in our church have suggested that we use Twitter hashtags posted on the screen during the sermon (much like ESPN Sportscenter) to increase engagement and catch the attention of their non-Christian friends through social media. So far we’ve seen several people end up at church because of what they’ve read and many of the youth are pumped about the new idea. There are plenty of creative ways to engage those far from God!

  4. February 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Baptists vote to keep the Sinner’s Prayer…again

    Preuters News Agency
    London

    Meeting today in London, a convention of the world’s Baptists narrowly endorsed the continued use of the Sinner’s Prayer as the hallmark act of Christian conversion. Here is the final draft of the convention’s statement on this issue:

    “Baptists today again affirm the Sinner’s Prayer as the act by which a sinner is justified before God. To be clear, it is not the recitation of the prayer itself that saves, nor is it necessary to endorse a set order of the words to be prayed, nor must the prayer be verbalized to others. What is necessary for salvation is this: A genuine, heartfelt prayer that 1.) acknowledges one’s sinfulness and hopeless state of perdition before God 2.) cries out to God with true repentance of one’s sins 3.) petitions God for his free gift of salvation 4.) asks Christ to indwell his heart/soul 5.) commits to abandoning his prior sinful lifestyle and promises to follow Christ and his righteousness.”

    Controversy over this statement simmered for the entire three days of the convention. A group of younger Baptists from the developing world pushed for the removal of the Sinner’s Prayer from the Baptist Statement of Faith, declaring that it was unscriptural and lacked any evidence of use in the Early Church. These young people read statements from the Early Church Fathers from the convention podium, noting that requiring a prayer (spoken or thought) for salvation was unheard of in the Early Church. This assertion created quite a stir as many of the older convention attendees were not accustomed to hearing appeals to the “catholic” Church Fathers as a source of authority for Baptist doctrine.

    The younger group put forward a new, brash, proposal as the new official Baptist Act of Christian Conversion:

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”

    This proposal prompted outrage from the majority of convention attendees. One prominent Baptist pastor from the United States summed up the majority’s sentiments by this statement:

    “Too Lutheran.”

    • February 3, 2014 at 6:29 AM

      Thanks for your comment. Biblically, however, I have to disagree. The Bible clearly teaches that the atonement is the act by which a sinner is justified before God, not a prayer of confession. (Romans 3:23-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:10). Nor does the Bible ever teach that a it is necessary to communicate one’s initial faith in Christ through prayer.

  5. February 5, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    May the Lord bless you as you continue to pastor the church God has put you at

  6. December 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Very good post. I am struggling with #5 in my church right now. Ravi Zaharias either said or quoted someone who said that “whatever you win them with, you must keep them with.” Well, when you win them with prosperity and “good things”, how are we going to keep them when things go horribly wrong? If we present the Gospel to people with our lives (discipleship), we can let the Holy Spirit win them! He can definitely keep what He wins!

    Thanks for the post.

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