In a recent post I discussed a 2013 survey which suggested that more US christians behaved like Pharisees than behaved like Jesus. And I had to admit I didn’t score as well myself as I’d have liked 1.
So what needs to change?
It is well established that lectures and sermons are poor ways to teach and to change – see Sermons – not how we learn best? A good sermon may encourage the congregation, but only a small percentage of people learn that way, and most don’t remember much, especially after the first 15 minutes.
More research information is coming in all the time. And it seems christians are the last to learn.
Martin Luther is examined for heresy.
I remember about 40 years ago coming to the conclusion that the church in the western world was, in the next few decades, going to go through changes as significant as the Reformation. I felt we had got away from the truth in several important areas – introspective & hierarchical churches, dead orthodoxy in many christians’ lives (including me), and failing to heed Jesus’ teachings on non-violence, acceptance and the perils of wealth – and God surely wouldn’t allow this to continue unchecked.
I think we are now in the middle of a new reformation, and here are some of the signs I see.
The shaping of things to come by Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch was published more than a decade ago now. It was at the time a revolutionary book which had a lot to say to contemporary churches and christians.
Ten years later it still needs to be read. Here’s a few of the things we can learn.
A reader went to that page and found a bunch of broken links. I have therefore completely re-structured the page, and included quite a lot of new material.
There are a few interesting things to report.
Pretty much all Protestant churches have sermons – generally as the centrepiece of the weekly service. Sometimes we learn from them, sometimes we don’t.
In fact studies by educationalists show that they are a poor method of teaching or changing behaviour, though they do generally make people feel good (see Sermons – not how we learn best?).
So why do we use such a poor communication method? What does their prevalence tell us? I’ve been musing about this lately.
Here’s a few thoughts that have been running through my head.
Many atheists make strong statements about how the church is in terminal decline, and it’s only a matter of time til it is reduced to an insignificant minority in most western countries, and eventually worldwide. Some christians may be influenced by these claims.
I did some research for my other blog to check out the facts and the conclusions of sociologists of religion, so I thought I’d share them here.
Last post (Justice and the gospel), we looked at how the ministry of Jesus included both evangelism and meeting physical needs. But in many western evangelical churches, the “gospel” has been narrowed down to mean little more than personal salvation.
If you are in a church like that, and you believe that justice and care for the poor and marginalised is part of the gospel, what can you do?
Let’s look at a few ideas and a little personal experience, and then (hopefully) others will share what they are doing.