Saturday, August 14, 2010

Response to Comment on Previous Blog

I decided to post my response here to a comment a reader posted on yesterday's blog (because my response had too many words for the posting space):

Thanks for stopping by and writing your thoughts. I do have the book "unChristian," which I received at Moody Bible Founder's Week two years ago. So many books, so little time, and Bible reading comes first!

I know what you're saying--about young people leaving the church. But as the name of my blog implies, sometimes that's because they want to stop going to church for reasons other than the ones you mention. Some stop attending because they are too lazy to get up in the morning. Others stop going because it was never important to them in the first place, and they only went because their parents went. Others get jobs, claim they have too much homework, participate in recreational or professional sports and say they are "too busy" to go to church. Many intend to "get back to it" when they're married with kids.

At the same time, I have a 19-year old son who is attending a small Christian college and he, of his own volition, attends church every Sunday. Sometimes he goes to one church and sometimes to another church, which I think is fine. He goes with different groups of people, or by himself. His favorite church, by the way, is a Baptist church where he says "they preach the message hard." I'm going to post an email in the next day or two that my son wrote to me while he was working in New Mexico this summer about a church he attended there so people can see what he finds appealing about church.

I have met my son's friends at college and they all go to church on Sunday mornings voluntarily. Their college has weekly chapels but hosts no Sunday services because the college wants the students to get out in the community and worship on their own initiative. So what I'm seeing is that, although some of the students I've met do find some churches too-this or too-that, they still attend church. They haven't thrown the baby out with the bath water, which I believe is very mature.

I've heard the mantra that church is judgmental and anti-this or anti-that and my response is that that complaint is often just an excuse to stop going to church or living the Christian life (sometimes a feeling of being superior to church is going on. Sometimes it's spiritual rebelliousness or not wanting to live a Christian life while in college). I also hear people say it's time the church stop preaching hell and damnation. I say that I haven't heard a hell and damnation sermon since I read Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God," which Edwards delivered in Massachusetts on July 8, 1741. Seriously, I just don't think the hell and damnation argument holds water. I wish more pastors did preach--lovingly and humbly--on sin and hell.

When I first heard Biblical teaching on sin and hell from a very kind but firm pastor preaching on the radio, I was led to Salvation at age 38. Finally I had found someone who respected me enough to level with me about how I was sabotaging my life and had no one to blame but myself. It was like the cloud over why my life was so empty moved away and I finally got some real answers that changed my life. I had never heard the FULL Gospel preached in my life until I began listening to this radio preacher from the "church" of my kitchen table on a daily basis for 30 minutes a day. That led me to seek a Bible-based church in my community, which proved very difficult. After years of searching, my family and I found one.

What I discovered in the search for a Biblical church is that there are many liberal theology churches out there along with emergent-type churches, but very few that rightly handle and preach the Gospel. The sheer lack of sound Biblical teaching is what turns those who are serious about growing in their faith, young and old alike, off. It's so condescending to go to a church that has the attitude "our people aren't ready for it" when it comes to the Gospel. All people are looking for, and I base this on my own, my husband's, many friend's and my 19 and 16-year old son's desires, is a church that preaches the FULL Gospel on Sundays and expects the congregation members to go live it out the rest of the week. It's time to stop expecting the pastor to do it all (that's where you start getting into circus atmospheres and jumping through hoops to make sure nobody's offended or uncomfortable.)

My question is, where's the accountability for the individuals in the pew to take responsibility for their own prayer life, Bible reading and outreach seven days a week?

Thanks again for your thoughts and for stopping by. God Bless~

I asked my 16-year-old son for a good Bible verse to go with this post, and he suggested something from 1 or 2 Corinthians. I chose the following words of Paul, writing to the Corinthians, which I believe help to establish not only what a Jesus-founded ministry (church) looks like but also our individual role of modeling discipleship, in the church and out.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. " 2 Corinthians 3:2-12

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways, we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:1-6

I stopped here but really all of 2 Corinthians is a great read on the ministry of preaching and being a disciple of Christ.

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