It has been bugging me for a while. I have to admit bringing it up has caused me some concern. What I am about to suggest goes against what has been considered conventional wisdom for quite some time. What I think we need to consider makes much of the current bestselling Christian “How To” books on church and Christian living no longer best sellers. As I look at the state of North American Christianity I have to wonder if we have gotten it all wrong.
We have made evangelism a god.
I know it is a bold statement. I know that many will get their backs up. I know that a few Bible verses will be thrown around. Still, I can’t help wondering if the god of North American Christianity is outreach. The basis for our current church model is a few verses about preaching the gospel that are used to cover over a “fill the seats, grow the attendance, build a building and hire a bigger staff” doctrine of what success looks like. There is just as much in the New Testament about worship, meeting together as a body of believers, loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, serving one another, growing in our faith, understanding who God is and what we need to aspire to be and prayer as there is verses about evangelism. Sorry, that’s wrong. There is so much more in scripture about the collective of Christ followers and our personal transformation into faithful worshippers in relationship with God than there is about outreach. Maybe we have it all wrong.
We are wrong every step of the way.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Human existence is defined by milestones that we can quantify, calculate and rank. We understand our accomplishments by assigning them a starting value then adding to them and comparing them to those who are doing the same thing. What if the starting value is wrong in the first place? What if what we are measuring is the wrong thing to measure? What if the unit of measurement cannot measure what we need to measure? It’s like we measure out the water and wallpaper paste by weight not volume pouring the completed mixture on a pizza stone, wondering why our steak and potatoes didn’t turn out the way we wanted. Maybe we have it all wrong.
We would never do this in any other relationship.
It’s so popular to say, “Christianity is about relationship not religion.” Sounds good until you consider that you would never view any relationship as a good relationship if all you did was tell others about it. Relationships are formed on and grow stronger around time spent together. If a friend spent all their time telling you about how great a marriage they had but spent very little time with their spouse most of us would wonder how good the relationship really was.
The less time spent building a relationship, the more chance you will look for what you need outside of the relationship. The more time spent building the relationship, the greater the chance for success especially when faced by temptations from the outside. Besides that, a successful relationship, one that is worked on, one that takes precedent over everything else becomes all that we will want to talk about as well as all people will want to ask about. Maybe we have it all wrong.
We need to work out of our overflow not our emptiness.
Recently I did something I have never done in a blog; I reviewed a movie (see Healing River – A Must See Movie). Why did I do something so drastically different from my regular blogging? Where did I get my inspiration? How did I end up with such a passionate post? Let me assure you no one insisted that I do it. I was never told that to be a true blogger you need to tell everyone about the movie. I was not compelled by other Healing River viewers or by the platform that delivered the movie to become part of the promotion team. I told my family. I told my friends. I told those who follow me on social media. I told those who read my blog. I told them because what I experienced while watching the movie filled me with emotion to the point I had to tell others.
What if we tell others about Jesus not because we were told we must, not because someone insisted it was the only response for a Christ follower, not because church leaders compelled us, but because what we experience fills us so much that we can’t help but share? What if we spent most of our free time experiencing the outpouring of God’s Spirit as we meet together, pray together, worship together, grow together, love one another, serve one another and most importantly flooded our lives with the way, the truth and the life rather than doing what the current culture does? Is it not more likely that every time we interacted with people outside of our faith we would end up sharing our faith? Maybe we have it all wrong.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)