In a recent class taken at Wooddale Church on Evangelism (see Woodale link for more info), 2 books stand out that many Christians should know about.
The first is The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
See at Amazon and watch a short video about the book: Amazon link
Or see the website: http://thereasonforgod.com
Or watch YouTube video -
To hear more from Keller, see the video from the Desiring God resources at: Desiring God link
He makes the case that old style evangelism will not work in a postmodern world, “the devil is in too deep.”
The second book is unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Here the authors discuss research about how 16 to 29 year-olds in the U.S. perceive the church and Christians.
See Amazon link for Kinnaman
Watch Kinnaman talk about the book on YouTube:
Watch co-author Gabe Lyons talk about the book on YouTube
The prognosis of the book is not good - either for how this age group perceives Christians nor what that means for their future participation in the church. 8 out of 10 students participate in church in their teen years, but by the time they’re 30, only 2 out of 10 maintain their involvement.
The authors then discuss 6 areas of particular concern where the church is found wanting, but perhaps the most significant finding has to do with American Christians’ depth of faith. While 73% of Americans attest to making a decision to follow Christ, only 9% live substantially different from other Americans.
Biblical World View
What makes the difference for this 9% is a biblical world view which includes believing these elements:
1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
2. God is all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and still rules today.
3. Salvation is a gift from God and can’t be earned.
4. Satan is real.
5. Christians are responsible to share their faith.
6. The Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.
7. Unchanging moral truth exists and is defined by the Bible.
In essence, the Christians who hold to the above live the kind of life that can impact the younger set;
those of shallower faith tend to only reinforce the problem of our skeptical youth.
Thus, a biblical world view is the measuring stick, according to Kinnaman and Lyons.
How are we doing?
So how do you think the church has done in terms of increasing the number
of Christians with a biblical world view ? With churches’ recent efforts at being ‘user-friendly’, seeker friendly, making music and terminology easier for the un-initiated, you might think we’re doing quite well, but not so.
In a recent study dated March, 2009, the Barna group found the church is losing ground re: biblical world view. Currently at 9% of the total population, we’re down 1% from year 2000, 2% from 2005.
Whatever the church’s efforts, we apparently are failing to increase the numbers of Christians whose lives (and world) are impacted by their faith.
For more detail, see Barna Survey link.
“There are several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten
Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”
Kinnaman and Lyons suggest ‘the church must become a catalyst and environment for genuine and sustainable spiritual trans-formation.’ Their organization’s view (the Barna group) of such transformation includes the following elements:
· Worshipping God intimately and passionately
· Engaging in spiritual friendships with other believers
· Pursuing faith in context of family
· Embracing intentional forms of spiritual growth
· Serving others
· Investing time and resources in spiritual pursuits
· Having faith-based conversations with outsiders
The key concept then is transformation. Christians need to be transformed from the current cultural mentality to a kingdom mentality. Along with that, we need to integrate a biblical world view.
If our own churches reflect the national norm as per the Barna research, we need to look hard at teaching biblical world view and transformation.
Watch YouTube video about the Truth Project:
Before reading the above books for the Evangelism class, I assumed the church was mostly ‘holding its own’. After all, our megachurch is over-whelmed with people any given Sunday. But a closer look suggests people aren’t growing deeply in their faith. At least we know where we stand.
Out of the pew, into the stew,