In continuing this discussion of Service versus Teaching — and that is really what I am speaking of here — please, allow me to explain a few things.
- Children are critically important. That even goes without saying. But some may have misunderstood my comments.
- We must reach them and keep them.
- The question is, “HOW do we do this?”
- My main concern here is that the church has changed its emphasis from teaching to other things.
- By shifting its focus on solid and deep teaching throughout the whole church, we end up failing to help the young as well.
- Service is important; and people have real needs that we can often step in to supply.
- Widows, orphans, the sick, and all who suffer we must help and comfort.
- But teaching and preaching are the 2 most important things that any church can do. That means we must focus on believers. Equipping believers. Feeding the sheep.
- And that means the sheep at all levels. Young, middle aged, and old.
- Not just trying to get them in the church so that we can plug bodies into our projects or programs.
- All other concerns are secondary to the teaching, proclamation and defense of the word of God.
OK, now back to the rant . . .
Just the Same Old, Same Old
I hate to say this, but all of this work-project / servant stuff you can find anywhere — in any secular, civic or pagan group.
You show up to worship, whomever. Then you join a smaller group. Then you grow in fellowship within your group or community of people.
You don’t need a church for that.
All this means is that the young are finding their fulfillment elsewhere. Why throw a bunch of religious rules and ideas into the mix?
Community service is something you can find anywhere today. Virtually every group does it in one form or another.
The Mainlines Have Changed Us
When I grew up in the United Methodist Church, this is exactly what took place. It really wasn’t about knowing Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. It wasn’t about filling ones heart and mind with the word of God. It wasn’t about finding forgiveness for one’s sins and having assurance of Eternal Life.
It was all about community.
It was about people that would show up Sunday morning to listen to a sermon. Maybe they would even go to the youth group on another night. Then on to participating in a work project that would address some need in the local or metro community. Or trying to do ones part in solving the problems of the Inner City.
There was no real spiritual component in any of that. Because the United Methodist Church had moved away from its biblical moorings long before that. Which has been a common tragedy throughout virtually all mainline Protestantism.
So, of course, there were no Creationist issues. No one was preaching about being born again. No one was talking about the literal, inerrancy of the Bible. No one was talking about hell and how we must trust Christ as our Personal Savior to escape it.
In the United Methodist practice, salvation was settled by infant baptism and good works. And by a general, fuzzy attempt to live a good life. And to do good to others. The main concerns of the church were the social issues of the day and how the church could embrace whatever the popular liberal solutions were to issues such as race relations, fair housing, boycotts on lettuce or grapes sold in grocery stores, equal rights for women, abortion rights and ending the Vietnam War.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had many wonderful friends in my church growing up. I still think of them all the time. They were wonderful people that I loved, and still love, dearly. And they were, for the most part, just as clueless as I was regarding how different the biblical gospel is from what the mainline churches actually taught.
So, there is no judgment here.
One Tangible Thing
But Evangelicalism is another story.
Born-again believers should know better.
Because we have the one tangible thing in our possession that really CAN make a difference in the world. And that is the word of God.
It is the one tangible thing that makes us distinctive from the world. Even from the religious world.
What is really at stake here is that the Evangelical church is moving with great speed toward the dead works of the mainline Protestant church. They are abandoning the Gospel of truth for a Gospel based on good works and social relevance.
They are moving away from their biblical foundations toward a new identity.
To Be Continued . . .