By Rev. Jeff Gannon, Senior Pastor
Recently, I was invited by the George Barna group to be involved in the conversation around faith and culture trends. I certainly don’t need another thing to do but carefully decided this was important. The benefits of participating far exceed the minimal demands of time.
Recently, the George Barna group reported three major faith and culture trends to pay close attention to in 2014. (I will blog about one each week, over the next three weeks.)
- The role of “church” is generating more skeptics and stronger defenders. In other words, people are going to the extremes when it comes to ecclesiology (study of church life & practice). For example, a Christian author named Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz is one of his many books) recently blogged that he no longer attends church because he doesn’t connect with God through the songs or through sermons.
My response and reflections….
Recently, a family moved to Wichita and have been here long enough to make their own valid observations. They said to me, “Why is it that the people of Wichita are very casual about whether they go to church or not? Where we come from, weekly attendance in worship is deemed important with rare exception.”
My response to the family was, “You have identified a critical issue not only for Wichita but for the Body of Christ around the world.”
The Book of Acts reflects what first century Christianity looked like. Look at Acts 2:42-47 with me….
Amplified Bible (AMP)
42 And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers.
43 And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers).
44 And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common;
45 And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need.
46 And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts,
47 Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].
I truly believe the maxim is true, “As goes worship, so goes the congregation.” The single most important factor in determining a congregation’s vitality is whether a particular community of faith values worship and places it as a priority in their life individually and congregationally.
Chapel Hill, because I love you and care about you, may I speak my honest opinion? I sometimes think we, generally speaking, take worship for granted and don’t always place the priority on worship attendance that we ought. This is not about legalism and guilt and shame. This is about growing in God’s grace.
In the least, will you pray with me that our worship life together will grow in every way?
In closing, when I hear stories like Donald Miller’s, I want to say, “Being a Christian is personal but never private. We need each other for worship, for community, for growth.” I want to say to Donald, “Donald, this is not just about you. Christianity is much larger than you. When you decide to withdraw you have an impact on the whole of the Body of Christ.”
I would appreciate your reflections and responses to this blog….
Blessings of peace and joy,