“Today’s church growth is largely numerical and it is without Biblical or theological foundation.” – Bill Hybels
When I read the above statement by Bill Hybels, pastor of one of the largest megachurches in the U.S., I was blown away by how he described the growth of today’s churches. In essence, Hybels is saying the church is growing big numerically but in many cases lacks Biblical power and substance.
I am sure that this statement is not true of all churches but I believe it does hold true for the overall impact the modern day church is having on society. Research tells us the vast majority of Americans do not believe the church is making a positive contribution to society. In fact, only 36% of adults surveyed believe that the church is making a positive impact on society.
These numbers break my heart. I believe with all of my heart that the church should matter and should be making a difference. By church, I mean we who have been saved and make up a local body of believers. As Christ followers, going to church should be a top priority for us. As well, the church we attend (our local body of believers) should be impacting others positively with the Gospel.
The world in which we live is being torn apart by so many divisive issues. This world desperately needs to see the love of God through individual believers who make up the local church. I wonder what might change in our world if the church really began to fulfill the mission that God gave us in our society.
What if we began to fulfill Matthew 28:19 which says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Unfortunately, studies tell us that 97% of all those know Christ as Savior do not share their faith. I pray that we will all begin to share the love of God and His Gospel to this hurting world that is in search of hope.
Also, what would it look like if we began to love others as Christ has commanded us? We have so much hate and division in our world today and I am convinced that the only way to turn this around is for the church to really love the way Christ intended for us to love. The book of 1 John tells us that “love is the proof of our belonging to Christ.”
In fact, John tells us in Chapter 4 that it is impossible to love an invisible God when we cannot manage to love a visible brother. We need to have a love for others that only God can give us.
I especially love 1 John 2:20 that declares: “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.” This verse tells us that loving this way will enable us to live in the light and truly make a difference in this world for the cause of Christ.
I pray that we would allow the truth of these verses to penetrate our hearts and stir us to fulfill the commission that God gave us to share our faith and also to love others as Christ would. I am convinced that if we could begin to do these things, the church will matter as never before!
“Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.” Hebrews 11:2
In the world today, it has become obvious to me that Christians are not held in high regard by much of our society. Christians are characterized many times as narrow minded and critical people. Unfortunately, that sometimes is true as I am afraid we do not always show the love of Christ even when speaking truth.
What concerns me more these days, is that so many Christians do not live with a distinctive and attractive life of faith. As Christians, the world needs to see that we have an exciting, life-transforming relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If we would live that way, I am convinced that the world would be so attracted and interested in the life that Jesus promised.
Our faith matters! I love the truth of Hebrews 11:2 above as it reminds us that through faith we earn a good reputation. In essence, our faith could truly make a difference in the lives of others if it is firmly rooted and grounded in a deep and loving relationship with God.
Think about that idea for just a minute. Who do we really want to impact throughout our lifetime? For me, I want to impact my children spiritually more than anything else. To do so, my faith must matter and I must model for them a growing, dynamic relationship with God. Let me share with you three principles that will help us to ensure that our faith really matters.
1) We must think Biblically - Everything we do must be Biblically based and spiritually focused. In other words, we need to live with a Biblical Worldview, which means, making life decisions through the lens of God’s Word.
2) We must live an authentic Christian lifestyle - God’s Word must be our guide and in doing so we would recognize the need to love and serve others before ourselves. Ray Steadman once said: “If the church was doing what it is supposed to be doing, people couldn’t stay out.” Distinctive Christian living will make a difference.
3) We must protect ourselves from falling away - E.E. Cummings said: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody but yourself means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight and never stop fighting.” We must continually ask God to give us wisdom so that we can follow the words of the Apostle Paul and not be“conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
I pray that each of us will recognize the truth of Hebrews 11:2 and allow God to build a faith that really matters in our lives!
“The family should be a closely knit group. The home should be a self-contained shelter of security; a kind of school where life’s basic lessons are taught; and a kind of church where God is honored; a place where wholesome recreation and simple pleasures are enjoyed.”~ Billy Graham
My high school basketball team was a closely knit group. I went to school at Stone Mountain high school right outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Stone Mountain is the world’s largest all granite mountain. Our school’s sports slogan was “Do Not Take Stone Mountain for Granted.” It may sound corny to you but I still love the sound of that slogan.
Our team was coached by a basketball legend in the state of Georgia by the name of E.L. Rainey. Coach Rainey taught us the game of basketball but he taught us far more about the importance of caring for each other and learning to be good men. Coach took a lot of time after practice and outside of basketball to teach us how to be good men.
If we are going to build a Godly home, we must invest a lot of time personally into the spiritual development of our families. The practice that I am referring to here is spending time together as a family talking about God and His Word and how we are to live our lives in light of who God is and what He says in His Word. The practice of family devotion I am referring to here is what happens away from church when you spend time as a family.
Now, the practice of having family devotions can take a lot of different forms. It can be a formal sit down Bible study or can be done as a part of everyday conversation at the dinner table, riding in the car, or conversation in the living room. You see a lot of times the formal sit down may not work for your family. What is important is that we teach and talk to our children about God and who He is daily. Our children need to hear of how God has worked in our lives and how much we love God. I love Psalm 78:4 and have used that verse as my guidepost in how I have talked to my kids over the years about God.
Psalm 78:4 “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”
Just like that verse says, I am not keeping anything from kids when it comes to God. I want them to know how God has personally changed my life and I also want them to know of the experiences in my everyday life where God has shown Himself so strong. This verse also encourages me daily to use the situations and circumstances of life to teach God’s truths to my kids.
Karen and I have more modeled the idea of family devotions around everyday conversation and not the formal sit down as that has worked best for us. That is the model that my parents used when I was growing up. They cunningly used the time we spent together as a family to practice the truth of Psalm 78:4.
What is your practice of drawing your family together in devotion? I pray that you will begin to redeem the time you have with your children to teach them the truths of God.