Regarding the question concerning why we are losing so many of our young people (see March–Christian Chronicle 2009), I have always considered our teaching and preaching somewhat out of balance.
Thirty years ago, as a speaker in a men’s brotherhood retreat, I asked for words that were vital and important in their view in the brotherhood. As they called them out I listed them on the board. Here was the response. “God, Church. Baptism, Prayer, Attendance, Lord’s Supper, Jesus, Obedience, Holy Spirit and Grace.” I stopped at ten. Obviously you could fill a number of boards with others.
We all believed in these words and their application, I paused a full minute and then asked another Question? Which of these do we emphasize and focus on? They were quiet and thoughtful and then began to answer in this order… “Church”, “Baptism”, “Attendance”, “Lord’s Supper”, “Obedience”. I held up my hand and the class became silent.
While this simple exercise was all spontaneous and unplanned, we were all somewhat stunned, and sickened when I asked, “Are you saying God didn’t make the first five”? “Jesus didn’t make the first five?” “The Holy Spirit, prayer and grace didn’t make the first five”! We all just sat and stared at each other. UNDERSTANDING AND BELIEF IS ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT THAT EMPHASIZE AND FOCUS!!
Why did they answer the way they did. Well, CHURCH is what we are, BAPTISM is what we did, ATTENDANCE is what we do, the LORD’S SUPPER is what we take, and OBEDIENCE is what we all strive to accomplish (our good works) TO BE HEAVEN BOUND.
Hopefully all believers accept the ten words and the truth they reveal. The real question is this; has our EMPHASIS become our IMAGE? Could this be one of the major reasons we are losing many of our young people today. Where is God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in our teaching. Why has prayer taken 8th or 9th place in our thinking?
GRACE should be the most fundamental word in our teaching for without it, there would be no hope. Proper emphasize is vital to the effectiveness of our preaching/teaching and believing.
March 4, 2009