Deep Faith in a Shallow World
We have inherited a faith formed by a Jewish man and a band of his friends, which became a global movement with three centers (Rome, Constantinople, and North Africa) in its first 500 years.
The North African center was decimated by Islam in the 7th – 9th centuries, leaving two centers, which coexisted until about 1000 AD, when they split.
The Roman Church became the center of Western culture until about 500 years ago. Then, the faith we have inherited re-formed in a multi-faceted argument with medieval Western Christianity …
… then re-formed several more times in a series of debates within various forms nominal modern Christianity …
… the faith we have inherited was additionally deeply influenced by the skepticism, secularism, and consumerism of modernity.
… our faith was additionally deeply influenced by 19th century revivalism and “revived revivalism” in the mid-20th century.
This version of the Christian faith which we have inherited presents us with a number of categories for discipleship or “spiritual growth,” several of which are being re-thought (and re-formed) today.
In today’s world, how do we communicate ancient truth with depth?
And how do we call students in a non-committal world to the self-sacrifice, embodied in life of Christ?
It was C.S. Lewis who was asked if he was high church or low church to which he replied, “I’m deep church.” He used the phrase “deep church” to describe the body of believers committed to mere Christianity. Our culture, especially youth culture can be characterized as shallow, and we all have experienced the pragmatic reality of doing church that often is operating at the fringes of student & parent priorities and pathologies…
As we enter the 3rd millennium as a church, we are in the midst of great reconsideration. We are asking if the forms of church we have inherited are the right forms for the mission of the future. For some of us, those forms will be rejected and deconstructed. Others will seek to defend and restore them.
These two questions personally cause me to wrestle with creative thinking and engaging the process of discipleship. Youth Ministry can be a lot of things but at the end of the day, “Youth Ministry for me” (birthed out the Sunday School Movement of the early 1900s and a formalized approach borrowed from Young Life of the 1940’s is mentoring….
It has also been demonstrated by research at Fuller Seminary that a believer needs about 5-7 mentors over the course of their life for successful and sustained faith. These can be mom and dad, youth pastors, Sunday School teachers, pastors, coaches, teachers, etc.
Sometimes we need to set aside what I like to call “unproductive orthodoxy” (no worries) but we need to set aside reality for the moment to consider what might be….
We haven’t fully realized the extent to which our abandonment of discipleship has cost us. In a weakened state of discipleship, perhaps we have tried to overcompensate with evangelism techniques?
Then there is the issue of style and what is elemental to church? Give the people what they want right? Is the corporate experience of your church “copycatting?” what worked elsewhere or is it elemental to your mission? Is the huge market demand for a certain style driving other element of church it does not need to drive?
I’m a PK, I love the church but I believe worship services have not nor will they ever build community. As for the collective worship experience of music, although it’s important for people to encounter God in crowd it, its limiting discipleship. I love the corporate experience but we need to ask a tough question. What is elemental to your ministry in terms of main service?
Limitations of an Academic Model
- Student OR teacher 1. Student And mentor
- Information 2. Tranformation
- Evaluation, grading 3. Developing, changing
Limitations of Transactional Leadership
- It is based on deal making and trade-offs
- It fosters co-dependence between pastor and followers, and can lead to ego building.
Limitations of “Numeric Growth”
- Numbers, Programmatic needs, events over the process
A Few Ideas:
Flipping the Classroom. Make our Gatherings, the Lab.
Using Technology to upload lessons with interactivity, tracking and feedback. Such as with Rightnowmedia.org This means less time with someone professionally presenting and more community & lab time…
Get Students to Talk about their Faith
I was talking to a Mormon leader about how they send their students to evangelize, and he turned and said to me its not evangelism, its discipleship. He said, “students will only learn their faith if they have to make a case for it.”
Stop Using the Big Box Method:
We talk so much about God who makes us all different but mass-production ministry is not working… Fortune 500 companies have realized that individual development plans foster greater growth…
Individual Development Plans…need to be platformed. Platforming increases an industries innovation efficency.
Engaging the Parents, Building Leadership Infrastructure
How do we teach truth to postmodern or “depressed” modernists? The Come and See Method…Jesus and 12, seems to be better than the here’s what you need to know, Paul & Jesus method…
There is the fear…that if wereally present the call of discipleship, no one will come because really dying and sacrifice isn’t sexy.
Jesus permanently humbled himself. Most of us are willing to be humble for a season or in some circumstances in hopes of later reward. In Philippians it says that Jesus emptied himself and became a man. People often gloss over the doctrine of the incarnation (that Jesus is fully God and fully man) and miss the eternal nature of what Christ did for humanity. You see by Jesus becoming a man forever; he cemented the possibility for us to have a relationship with God in the ground of reality. Let me say that another way, God humbled himself by becoming man permanently so that we might have connection with him throughout eternity. Without permanence there is no salvation for man.
So lets realize their isn’t a false dichotomy. We can do discipleship… Let’s begin to say…if you follow me, I will make you…?