For those of you who couldn't make it to the last Vision Youth Network I thought I'd offer a brief summary of what I spoke on.
With the pace of ministry nowadays its easy for us to feel like hamsters running madly on a hamsters wheel... going nowhere. Ministry is unlike most jobs where you can see results in a fairly short space of time. Building into people takes time.
Unfortunately, with this long wait to see the fruit of our labour, we can veer off course and end up never seeing the fruit we have been working so hard for.
It is for this reason that we must ensure that we are headed in the right direction.
With this in mind I see 3 major issues that we seem to be unaware of in our ministry:
1) Biblical Illiteracy
2) Cultural / generational semantics
3) Orthodoxy needs Orthopraxy
1) Biblical Illiteracy
A Barna study showed that of Christians, only 3% of under 25yr olds and 9% of over 25yr olds have a Biblical world view as determined by the following 8 criteria:
a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
b) That God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator of the universe and He still rules it today.
c) Salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned.
d) Satan is real.
e) A Christian has a responsibility to share his / her faith in Christ with other people.
f) The Bible is accurate in all of the principals that it teaches.
g) Unchanging moral truth exists.
h) Moral truth is defined by the Bible.
2) Cultral / Generational Semantics
We live in an age of Truth Relavitism where there are no absolute truths. Truth is simply relative to some particular frame of reference. Hence we hear people say things like, '... that's true for you but not for me.'
So when you're communicating one thing your audience could be interpreting something different altogether!
Josh McDowell explains the difference in our younger generations semanitics compared to ours in the following chart which is from his book: The Last Christian Generation (pg22)
Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.
Accepting that each individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal.
Give due consideration to others beliefs and lifestyle choices without necessarily approving of them.
Wholehearted approving of others’ beliefs or lifestyle choices.
Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say or do.
Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.
Certain things are morally right and wrong as determined by God.
We have no right to judge another person’s view or behaviour.
Preferences of colour, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.
Preferences of sexual behaviours, value systems, and beliefs are personally determined.
Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.
Everyone has the right to do what he or she believes is best for himself or herself.
Being free to do what you know you ought to do.
Being able to do anything you want to do.
An absolute standard of right and wrong.
Whatever is right for you.
3) Orthodoxy Needs Orthopraxy
While people may have a grip on orthodoxy (right beliefs) it seems that very few have a good orthopraxy (right acions).
Numerous stastics from Barna and other researchers indicate that there is a minute difference in lifestyles and behaviour of Christians!
Once again out of Josh McDowell's book (pg17) The Last Christian Generation, we see that while 91% of Christians and 90% of non-Christians were satisfied with their ethics and character, that 63% of Christians had physical hurt someone in the last 12 months when they were angered (this is compared to 67% of non-Christians.
74% of Christians cheated on a test as compared with 76% of non-Christians.
The list could go on...
This all paints a grim picure.
I in know way feel that I have a substancial grip on the solutions but let me give you some of my preliminary thoughts:
1) The reason we have Biblical Iliteracy is due to a lack of discipline. People are too lazy to read the Word of God. They prefer spoonfeeding through 5 min devotionals or listening to the latest podcast etc.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control / discipline. (Gal 5: 23)
We need to ask God to work the fruit of the Holy Spirit into our lives.
We also need a new standard by which to live. Mirroring the world can no longer be acceptable!
And with this we need higher levels of accountability.
2) We should not assume that the semantics we mean will be the semantics that our audiences interpret.
3) We need new success markers. No longer can orthodoxy be enough.
We need a new measurement of success as ministry leaders. Bums on seats doesn't cut-it!
We need to recognize and reward those who are truly walking out their orthopraxy.
Well that was a basic overview.
What are your thoughts on the above? I'd love you to leave a comment and share your thoughts with us. Lets journey together.
Godspeed & Kaizan