Sunday, March 18, 2007

First-hand faith in a second-hand world...

One thing I am committed to is helping my children have a living, vibrant spiritual life. A life that's centered around their relationship to Jesus as their forgiver and leader. And by vibrant, I mean not just a casual relationship where they hear a nice sermon and some good music on Sunday. I mean a life where they see God at work in their lives, and the lives of those around them. I think that's the life that God intended for people to have. But so many of us, even those of us who call ourselves Christians, settle for a second-hand faith. You know, hearing about the great God that worked in a big way for someone else, but not so much for me.

Toward that end, my wife, the Mighty Mrs. J, and I left a somewhat traditional church ministry that I started a few years ago. We felt like we were spinning our wheels, doing what we were expected to do. But we want more than that! So we've started looking for other like-minded people who are searching for a real, first-hand faith experience. What do I mean by first-hand? A few things:

  • I am responsible for my relationship with God. Just like I'm responsible for how the Mighty Mrs. J and I relate. It's not up to a minister, a worship leader, an author, or any self-proclaimed guru to make sure I'm growing more like Jesus.
  • I believe that God is working in my life, and the lives of the people around me. There was a popular book several years ago that invited Christians to find out where God is working, and join Him in His work. I want to find out where God is working around me.
  • The goal of the Christian life is to develop such a close relationship with God that I become more and more like Jesus. The goal isn't increased knowledge, or a theological degree, or a place of honor in a church group.
  • The best way to study God's word is to read it myself. I don't need someone else to read it to me and tell me what it means.
  • The best way to apply God's word to my life is as part of a group of people who are serious about digging into the Bible as a group. People who personally interact with the Bible are more likely to make Bible truths part of their lives.
  • The way the traditional church is structured leads to a passive, second-hand faith. It's my personal opinion traditional church is often a hindrance to people who seek an authentic faith. Look at a typical church service: a worship leader chooses what you will sing, a preacher reads the Bible for you and tells you what it means. Everything is done for you.
There's a lot more on my mind, but I'll stop here. This is a long post, but this is something really important for me. Most kids follow to some degree the faith of their parents. I want my kids to see as close to a true representation of the Christian life as possible.


JP Vilaire said...

I very much identified with this post as a former pastor of traditional churches for the last five years. I have been concerned, almost the entire time of my pastorates, about the very issues you describe. It came to the point I could not endure participated in a religious organization that seems to create spiritually impotent congregants rather than spiritually growing Christians. Unfortunately, after moving to a new city and settling down we find that we know no one who is like minded. We also find ourselves without fellow Christians to spend time with. I would be interested to know how you are proceeding with building a new community of faith? If you are willing I would appreciate you contacting me with your suggestions.

God bless,

Nerak said...

Just visiting from blogworld. Great post! You and the Mighty Mrs. J. have been through a similar experience to my husband and I. We didn't leave the pastorate but we have left "going to church" for the very reasons you stated. Ffffrreeeeedddddom! My life in Christ has never been more exciting or real. One of these days I'll put a more detailed testimony of this on my blog. But for now, I want to go check out Mrs. J's site.