In a recent blog post, I wrote for David C. Cook’s content site for kids ministry leaders called Spark. I talked about in recent years there has been similar language used by apostates in explaining their “de-construction” stories. One of those familiar tunes they all seem to play is the God of the Old Testament vs. the God of the New. These arguments that modern apostates pose have a cascading effect. Once you attack the nature of God, the next domino to fall is the authority of scripture. What is interesting is that those who apostatize follow the same path that that theologians follow in systematic theology. Apostates tear down the foundations that have been systematically laid.
I had a conversation with my good friend Jana Magruder Director of LifeWay Kids. She recently wrote a book called Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. In this book, she and her team discuss the results of a survey done by LifeWay. They found nine indicators that led to lifelog faith in kids. The most surprising finding was that the number one indicator of a lifelong faith is not the faith of your parents. It isn’t church attendance; it isn’t even generations of attendance in the same church. The number one indicator of a lifelong faith is Bible reading. And it’s not even close.
A.W. Tozer says, “Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian,” this Jana says is the basis of the book that they wrote. Jana said at LifeWay they were looking for what creates lifelong faith in kids.
At first, we were looking for a formula for a recipe that if we could get this right, we could have more assurance that our kids are not going to leave the church as a different research study says. So many leave and some come back. What can we do as parents and pastors? When we got the results back, our research team came back to us. It said you know you’ve got the number one answer. It is so far away from numbers two, three, and four that it really needs to be in its own separate category, so as you write this book, don’t make it look like number one was this then number two after that… it needs to stand alone, it needs to have its own place. Our research shows it so far in importance and value from the other things. The answer was Bible reading.
Jana said that this finding is “profound because it’s not the first thing our brains go to.” In Nothing Less, Jana and her team reveal this is not what we are chasing as a culture. Travel sports, grades, private school, Christian school, home school, big church or small church…” None of these made the difference Bible reading did.
I think the reason why we miss this is because while we may value scripture, I’m not sure we see it as authoritative.
Ego: The Church does not need brilliant personalitiesbut faithful servants of Jesus
Genuine authority knows, however, that all immediacy is disastrous, particularly in matters of authority. Genuine authority knows that it can only exist in the service of the one who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the words of Jesus, “you have one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23: 8). The community of faith does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and of one another. It does not lack the former, but the latter. The community of faith will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the word of Jesus, because it knows that it will then be guided not by human wisdom and human conceit, but by the word of the good shepherd.
Keeping our egos in check is so important because it is counter-cultural to everything we see and hear. We live in a day where self-promotion is rampant. The church sadly is no different. What worries me is kids who are digital natives are growing up and they don’t remember what it was like before the age of the minor Christian celebrity. You have ministers who start a blog and buy followers on twitter before long they are wearing swag and hitting the conference circuit speaking about things they have heard and seen others do but have never done themselves.
Most leaders if they are honest will tell you one of their biggest fears is they would give their life and energy to someone or something only to be forgotten once they move on. I have thought about this a lot lately what will people take away from your contribution to your church, family, field.
Here are a few random thoughts I have been thinking and praying over.
1. When I leave a conversation do people think I am important or did I make them feel important
2. The people you poured into will always outlast anything you build.
One of the things that I find most comforting in life is know how God sees our future. We tend to limit God based on how we think he works or how we think he should work. This is why the second commandment is such a big deal. When we make a physical representation of God, we remove him from being a God that is limitless to a one-dimensional caricature. We form Him in our image by assuming that he should look and act like us. He doesn’t work that way.
Here is one of the most freeing things that I have come to understand and appreciate in my relationship with God. When I stress over what the future holds I fail to see my future in the way God does. The way that God sees our future is exactly how we see our past. That understanding transforms our trust. When we look to our past, we see a vast array of unconnected dots that somehow worked together to bring us to the job that we have the person we married and the school we attend. Steve Jobs was a self-proclaimed Buddhist but as a result of common grace he understood this. He attributed the beauty of his products to an obscure class on calligraphy he took in college.
What God’s word tells us is that every seemingly unconnected dots that have been linked sovereignly and are how God see our future. We see disconnected dots God see our beginning from our end. It is that simple understanding that help us trust him in every season of life.
The problem you and I have in life and ministry is that we get what we do not what we want. It’s very easy to forget that in every area of life from raising your kids to building your church. I want lots of things in life. I want to write a book but no matter how much I want it if I don’t start doing it, I will never write a book.