It’s a slow fade.
The church as we know it is fading, but the real question is why, and what can we do about it?
Do you remember the song by Casting Crowns? Well, the American church is in a slow fade.
There is a lot of talk about hybrid models in the church world. We have already walked through 200 years of a hybrid model. The American church was never the biblical model.
Today’s church has prayer rooms and healing rooms. And that is OK and even great! But there is more talk about soaking in the Gospel than sharing the Gospel.
This message of “go” is not popular among many Christians. It is more popular to soak and saturate in God’s presence than to share our faith.
We are taught to get all we can and sit on the can. Again, not a Jesus model.
The current model for discipleship is to grab the new quarterly from denominational headquarters and head to the classroom. And yes, sit down, and learn and learn and learn — no real training.
And you had better read that lesson, or the Sunday School Superintendent will get you, and God will be mad at you. It is not true that God will get angry.
We also cannot conclude that nothing good happened in the class. And it’s not that people did not learn anything of value in these classes. But it is not hard to see that Jesus never used the classroom as the primary tool for making disciples.
Everyone learns differently
To surmise that everyone learns the same way is a mistake.
Some are visual learners. Some are audio learners. Some learn by reading and others by writing.
These styles of learning are known as visual, audit, and reading/writing learning styles.
But there is a fourth learning style: Kinesthetic learning, which is a fancy way of saying “learning by doing.”
Active learning consistently exceeds passive learning. The best method is to learn put that knowledge into action.
Jesus said to GO into the world
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20
Eric Geiger said, “Discipleship includes deployment (to send them out). Part of the disciples’ development was being sent to preach. True discipleship always results in the disciple being sent out. And the being “sent out” further develops the disciple. Multiple times in the gospels, Jesus debriefed with His disciples after they ministered to others. Mission engagement was part of their discipleship. To separate discipleship and mission is to make an unhealthy distinction. Mission opportunities are simultaneously discipleship opportunities.”
Jesus said, “go into the world, and the American church says, “world come to the church.
Care Nieuwhof recently asked, “So are you reaching unchurched people at your church? How would you know…for real? Just because a church is growing doesn’t mean it’s filling up with unchurched people. Hoping to reach unchurched people is one thing. Reaching the unchurched is quite another. When unchurched people start connecting with your church, things change deeply.”
Well, the American church can use some change when it comes to reaching our culture effectively.
The early church focused on the community
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. “Now, whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the home is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10: 5–13, NKJV)
The current church remains focused on attracting people to come to a building. This model is not working. The church model of “come and see” is failing.
Life is at and at our fingertips. An analog world is becoming obsolete. You can hate the digital world and resist it, but you will never change it.
Church online is a real thing, and it’s here and here to stay. You may say the digital church is not real. Many people choose to engage God digitally. Again, no changing that.
Remember, Jesus said to go, not come.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:16–18, NKJV)
Observation or demonstration?
Jesus traveled to the cities, and the disciples accompanied Him. The disciples did not sit in a class or read a manuscript.
The disciples learned while doing the ministry. Peter, James, John, and the other nine disciples walked with Jesus through life and did life with Him. They served alongside Jesus.
The disciples were hands-on in every aspect of ministry and serving others.
Jesus, both taught them and trained them. The American church is fat on teaching and lean on training. American Christians have learned the Gospel without living the Gospel.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35–38, NKJV)
Execute the plan of God
The world talks a lot about execution. The church not so much. The church has a false belief that learning the Gospel is the acclamation of the Gospel. Not true.
Learning about flying a plane is not flying the plane. Why do we think this way concerning the Word of God?
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22, KNKV)
To only hear the Word of God and not do it is equal to deception. So does thinking you can fly a plane simply because you learned all the rules of flying in a classroom.
Paul also said in Philippians 4:9, ..” The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Again, notice what Paul said,” The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do.”
Nike got it right.
Just do it, and yes, Christian, this applies to you.
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