I mentioned Barna’s research on changes in youth faith practices in recent posts, but never expounded… until now.
My basic interpretation of his figures suggests a pattern: the American Church 1. DOES THINGS THAT PRODUCE visible numbers, not disciples, 2. HAS visible numbers, not disciples, 3. is externally PERCEIVED AS WANTING visible numbers, not disciples, and 4. internally, views itself, largely, as “not dedicated or bold.” What does this mean?
Before this means anything there is one other piece of common knowledge that is not in the research, but we all know to be true: American Christians WANT disciples. Conclusion: We don’t know what what discipleship is.
This is obvious in the fact that Christians view themselves in terms of “dedication” rather than “passion.”
Dedication is about meeting and pursuing a standard or goal outside of ourselves. Passion is completely different because it flows from the heart and our innermost desires. · · · →
First impressions aren’t infallible. We all know it, yet we all tend to live like they are.
What’s the first thing a pastor might think when he sees his church membership dropping? “Invite more people,” of course. What if the numbers aren’t going down from a lack of invitations, but from a lack of substance? Barna research suggests a perception among non-Christians that church-goers are only interested in numbers, not depth. Are we Christians shallow, only caring about attendance figures? Do we truly want to glue apples to unfruitful trees? Or is our mistake that we are letting “first impressions” dictate solutions? Evangelism is wasted when reduced to a “first impression-solution” to empty pews. It should remain part of our ongoing charge to fulfill the Great Commission: making disciples.
Remember the bible studies we’d go to as a youth? We’d open to a passage, we’d all shared our thoughts. How did we come to understand what the Bible meant? · · · →
According to a recent George Barna article, How Teenagers’ Faith Practices are Changing, discipleship is on the decline and young people are leaving Church. Why?
Young adults who want to be challenged in their growth will walk out on anything if they find it mediocre, including the Church. The best kept secret of the Seven Ecumenical Church Councils is that Holiness is more desirable than heresy—to the people a discipleship ministry should be focusing on.
Why haven’t willing young people had access to deeper levels of discipleship? I don’t think the pastors have failed, there just haven’t been enough good mentors that young people have access to. Many teenage Bible studies are led by a layman who’s trying his best, and the youth like him, but the really good leaders are in demand and simply don’t have the time for the necessary tailored-coaching to answer deep questions asked by inquiring young minds. · · · →
I knew a priest whose ministry was good,
Serving God and people as best as he could.
But tragedy struck with his dissertation,
He exploited his weakness—the whole situation!
A doctorate in ministry: he joined the proud few,
By a paper entitled, “I’m Insecure, and So Are You.”
Irony divides, can’t make up its mind.
Where do we oppose and draw the last line?
Secureness in ministry is required by the Word.
And proving the obvious is truly absurd.
A man who would choose such a odd-sounding title–!?
Only love can dispute him, just even one trifle.
A ministry seminary being so dignified
By approving his work defines him “Unqualified.”
I should have known, I should have seen,
That a man so prone would soon have to lean
On opinions of others including his dean
To validate a mess Christian brothers can clean.
And the greatest victim, the most pitied party,
Isn’t a friend once held hearty,
But the man himself, whose papers were tardy
In proving an issue Christ can heal. · · · →