Tuesday, March 4, 2008

High Wire Act

[Most of the following was taken from a comment I made on another blog.]

Jesus commissioned His followers to "make disciples". Many evangelical churches emphasize the evangelism side of discipleship, but neglect the maturity side. Others "go deep" to the delight of supposed mature Christians (even though they're typically the ones who can't/won't feed themselves) but to the detriment of babes who need to be given milk. ["Evangelical" and "evangelism" have different meanings. The former refers to a view of Scripture and a conservative orthodox doctrine. The latter refers to a passion for sharing the Christian faith and winning converts to Christ.]

It's the church's responsibility to teach newbies how to read, study and apply the Word. The essential that evades most churches is balance. And here's what makes that so hard to achieve: Selfishness. Christians can be so selfish! The "super-spirituals" lobby for "in-depth" stuff on Sundays. And since they're typically the ones funding the church (new Christians aren't usually great givers yet), their squeaky wheel gets greased.

Balance means there's enough depth to challenge the maturing (note I didn't say "mature" - it's an ongoing process)yet enough basics to challenge the young to want more. Few churches/pastors are very good at achieving balance. Some of us are better at being evangelists than we are at being teachers and vice versa. But shouldn't we see ourselves as both?

I'll be honest. It's easier for me to be one or the other. But then, church isn't about me. And when I stand before a congregation expecting to hear from God through my words, I think I should have something to say that targets everyone. I want everyone to walk out saying, "I learned/grew/changed/was challenged today."

I'm continuing to try to figure it out. It's certainly my goal.


marcia said...

Hmmmm....based on the two sermons I just listened to, and the one of Andy's, I'd say you both have the balance thing pretty well down....

NCBeachMom said...

excellent post, I will be looking forward to checking out a couple of your sermons!

Raleigh, NC

Terry Gray Sr. said...

Just my un-educated observation. Between you, Nate, and Andy, I think that the three of you demonstrate a pleasing balance that "speaks" to just about everyone at one time or another. I know myself for one, have come away from most of the services with a feeling, Hey that was for me.

I guess what I really am trying to say is, I think the three of you compliment each other well and create a very good balanced delivery of the word.

One of the best examples I can relate to is a sermon where you demonstrated whatever sin has been committed, what ever offense, the price has already been paid. That even though Satan is trying to show God how we have failed in our lives by pointing out, look, look at that! Jesus takes the floor and says, yes that is bad, they should have not done that, but.....I payed the price.

How powerful is that?

Didn't mean to ramble, but felt like I needed to say that.

Anonymous said...

This is something my husband and many church staff struggle with. I would like to share a good example of a new believer who wants to grow, but needs to be fed the appropriate food.

A woman in our church was saved about a year ago when she called the church office asking to speak to a pastor. She was thinking of committing suicide. She hung up before someone could be located. The two secretaries prayed that she would call back. She did.

The associate pastor talked to her, and long story short, she accepted Christ as her Savior. Recently, she signed up for a Precepts Bible study. She went to the first meeting, tried to do the homework, and failed miserably. She doesn't even know basic Bible truths yet, so she isn't ready for something that indepth at this point.

I've been a Christian for 48 years, and I struggled through a Precepts Bible study. When she told us that she couldn't understand the study, I shared my experience with her. We've invited her to a weekly prayer time. She had never prayed aloud before. We explained to her that praying was talking to God just like we talk to each other. We told her that if she didn't feel comfortable she didn't have to pray, but when it came around to her, she prayed a beautiful prayer from her heart.

A year ago, she was selling drugs and her life was a mess. Jesus has changed her life, and now two of her children have been saved.

I think that if the people who are all about "going deeper" would help to disciple someone like Debbie, they might catch a glimpse of the importance of looking beyond their own needs. [steps off soapbox] For everything there is a season.