Friday, July 13, 2012

When God's Kids Grow Up



As I mowed the grass in the sweltering heat, I thought about my spiritual discontent.

Again.

I watched a video last night featuring Greg Hawkins, the executive pastor of  Willow Creek church, who discussed the trend of committed, born-again Christians leaving traditional churches in large numbers. Wanting to know what was behind it all, pollsters like George Barna have been collecting data from studies and have reached several conclusions - one of which I'll discuss in this message.

The most startling fact uncovered is that most of the people who are leaving the church are not lukewarm, marginal Christians, but those who are the most committed to living for Jesus. The sold-out, on- fire children of God are seeking greener pastures in which to rest.

Five years ago - this revelation would have shocked me. But today, it confirms what I've seen happening among my friends and it sheds light on what I've experienced in my own life.

In 2008, when I first began having dreams - many of them took place in church buildings. I'd dream about praying for people to be healed or I'd be prophesying at a church service. At that time, my wife and I attended an AG church regularly. The church dreams didn't last long. The church we attended had a lot of problems and God called us to meet with people in different locations and soon, my dreams took on a different setting.

The church dreams ended and instead I was praying with people in ambulances, stores, streets and hospitals. Literally anywhere but in a church building. I knew God was calling us out of that setting, and into the community at large, but we had a hard time giving up our church life.

Over the years, my wife and I have tried to find a church to attend, but haven't been successful. We don't have an ax to grind against the institutional church. Yes, we see a number of problems with the traditional church scene, but we also see some positive things that a traditional church setting can provide. We just can't find one that meets our  particular needs. One of the problems is that we seem to have outgrown most churches and the things they teach.

One thing most churches do well is help new believers become rooted and grounded in the truth of scripture. While some folks may be content to study the bible their entire lives, others require a bit more diversity. Some churches have nothing to offer beyond basic bible teaching. So when a church successfully nurtures it's members into maturity and they require training and equipping beyond the basics, where do they go?

Many believers today have discovered their identity in Christ and are fully capable of teaching with authority and operating in the power of God. They're not beginners any more. They're seasoned veterans. As their numbers have grown - it's become apparent (to me at least) that the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God spoken of in Scripture may finally be here. God's kids have grown up. And unfortunately for church leaders -  they've nearly worked themselves out of a job.

The body of Christ now needs advanced training and equipping and leaders are late in responding to that need. A few (Bill Johnson for example) have seen the need and developed advanced curricula. To their credit, Bethel has made their school of supernatural ministry curriculum available to others, but a better approach would be for local fellowships to develop and implement their own.

The need for more challenging instruction might explain the boom in conference attendance. Many people find that two or three days of immersion in worship and advanced teaching is more helpful than digesting weekly sermons.

The present challenge to leaders is to recognize the need for advanced training and equipping and ask God for the resources and insights on how those needs can be met. If the needs of the sheep are not met, they'll continue to head for the exit sign.

Here's the interview with Greg Hawkins:





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2 comments:

traviskolder.com said...

Thanks for this. This post really struck a chord with me because it's the first time I've seen someone comment on this phenomenon outside of the typical "house church" or "organic church" blogs, and I always appreciate fresh perspective.

As an advocate for organic churches, I see this phenomenon as a failure to properly mobilize the saints for the works of service. Many of the mature, committed saints who are moving out of the church but not leaving the faith are looking to be used by the Lord and encounter Him. They also aren't against the church.

From where I sit, many of them are here because they weren't properly equipped for service. They are so mature that they should be mobilized as church planters, elders of new churches, and five fold minstries supporting networks of new churches. With most of Christianity consumed with maintenance instead of mission, though, there has been no room for expansion and multiplication of the leadership of the church.

Every time I encounter a mature saint outside of the church, my message is the same: You are loved, you are important, and you're needed in the harvest field. Many more sons and daughters' futures hang in the balance.

Thanks for this post.

Prayingmedic said...

Thanks for dropping by Travis. Glad you found the message helpful.

PM