I like to think of myself as a forward thinker someone who operates out of the box. Operating out of the box only creates a new box which is used to keep up with the times. That means in the not too distant future my box will be looked on as the old box. Then someone will come along and say “I am going to think outside the box” “SHAZAAM”, now we have another new box. I think you get the picture. Nothing is wrong with new ways of thinking in the Kingdom of God as long as the message is not compromised. The new boxes may not compromise the message but have the potential to weaken the result of the message on God’s children. I am not sure where the church got misdirected but it has veered off the path Christ blazed. Being a Christian today does not resemble the first century Follower of Christ. In the first century Christ Followers were increasing in numbers daily and the growth was unstoppable Even though Followers of Christ were being persecuted everywhere they were.
How did the church of the first century thrive and survive such a tough beginning?
You only have to look to Jesus and those first followers of Christ to see the box we need to reopen. Jesus was a Rabbi (teacher) who did not teach theory, philosophy. No was he a man who taught to pass along knowledge. Jesus taught in a way to pass along a way of living. Jesus would preach to the multitudes, He taught the 12 but He poured into Peter, James, and John. Throughout the gospels you see where Jesus took Peter, James, and John pouring His life into their lives. As a result of Jesus pouring into them they would pour their lives into others. Those that the three poured into would pour into others and so it went for many years, and the disciple (Christians) multiplied greatly. This model of teaching was the primary way of teaching for years. Farmers taught their children how to farm, blacksmiths taught their children how to blacksmith, store owners taught their children to run the store and so it went for many years. You rarely hear the statement "this farm has been in my family for many generations" or "this is the family business that my great-grandfather started" and here I am still running the family business. We have lost the art of passing on knowledge through shared lives and experiences. This is why there is a shortage of men and women who actually know a trade. It is also why the church in America is declining.
The Bible Belt is not currently experiencing the decline many other areas in our nation are experiencing. We must not bury our heads in the sand and think it will not happen here. That attitude breeds complacency in the local church which creates the perfect storm. What I mean by this is if we are not proactive now in making a change in how we pass on Biblical knowledge before decline begins, it might be too late once decline is actually happening. For years I have operated out of a reactionary mind set which can be tiring, burdensome, and prone for mistakes. Jesus was very intentional with His time while on earth. As Christ followers, disciples, Christians, terms that are interchangeable, we should be intentional in our passing on the Christian faith as a lifestyle not just belief in a set of principles. Moving forward my vision is to create a practice that resembles the process that Jesus used. This means we must go back to the original box, the Jesus box to grow the church the way “they used to do it”. Hmm? If it worked for Jesus it just might work for us.
Stay tuned. More to come!