Casual Christianity

Excerpt taken from this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/23/im-pastor-and-want-to-quit-church-now.html

“Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?

My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.

The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.

This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.

Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.”

Advertisements

Christian Women are More Committed to Faith than Men

Excerpt from: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christian-women-religious-christian-men/

“As a study conducted by the Pew Research Center finds, based on a broad range of factors, Christian women in the United States express a higher level of religiosity and religious commitment than Christian men.

For example, more than seven-in-ten Christian women (72 percent) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62 percent of Christian men.

Women are also more likely than men to read Scripture at least once a week (49 percent vs. 40 percent) and believe the Bible is the Word of God (78 percent vs. 72 percent).

While there are likely to be numerous factors that influence this gap, I suspect the most important is the difference in Bible reading habits. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers for Bible reading and prayer.

 

 

As Donald Whitney says, the most important spiritual discipline is “the intake of God’s Word. No factor is more influential in making us more like the Son of God than the Spirit of God working through the Word of God.” Whitney also adds that “of all the Spiritual Disciplines, Prayer is second only to the intake of God’s Word in importance.” Prayer is second in importance because it relies on our knowledge of God, which comes from reading his Word. Without engagement with Scripture, our prayers are lacking. It’s like having a phone conversation in which the other person can hear us but we can’t hear them.

While I don’t want to underestimate the complexity of addressing the problem, I think the core solution is to encourage Christian men to read their Bibles. What if women are more inclined to pray, attend church, and say their faith is very important to them simply because they’ve first taken the time to encounter God in his Word?”

 

 

Source: Article: “Why Are Christian Women More Religious Than Christian Men?” by Joe Carter

Treating Others as Objects

An Excerpt from “A Culture of Freelance Relationships”

 

“An article entitled “Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/opinion/sexual-freelancing-in-the-gig-economy.html) appeared in the New York Times. Its premise is this: economics influences dating.

And here’s where things get interesting: the article argues that dating simply “applies the logic of capitalism to courtship. On the dating market, everyone competes for him or herself.” Hold on. Is this really the way we view dating? Honestly, I think we have to own it: We do, in fact, tend to treat people as objects instead of people. But is this the way it should be?…Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience. If we look sharp, we might get a free lunch.

What can we do, then, to confront a worldly attitude that promotes using other people? I think we must start here: as single people looking to date other single people, we must take each other seriously. People are not to be invested in for the simple return they may yield to us.

Jesus’ words are hard to hear: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25); “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In the topsy-turvy ethic of the Kingdom, true life on this planet looks more like losing an investment than gaining a profit. Love looks more like the cross than the crown. Meaningful relationships look more like the servant who washes feet rather than the master whose feet get washed.

In other words . . .

Meaningful Relationships Are Costly

We need to steep ourselves in the truth that meaningful relationships cost time. In an age of instant gratification and constant distraction, simply finding the time to talk meaningfully about life is rare.

Meaningful relationships also cost the facade. The thing about the freelance mentality of relationships in our culture is that this constant shopping around helps us avoid the true vulnerability that comes with meaningful relationships, where we are both known and loved, not simply for our accomplishments but for our failures as well.

Does the prevalent view of humanity we pass to singles look more like the gig-relationship mindset that pervades our culture? Or does it look more like Jesus, who takes us and our lives seriously from the outset, who served us that we might be washed, and who sacrificed Himself that we might have life in Him?”

 

Source: (https://www.harvestusa.org/culture-freelance-relationships/)

Singles and Church

This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:

There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%).

The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God.

One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/single-minded-church/

Sharing Faith

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”

“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”

“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/sharing-faith-increasingly-optional-christians/

Prayer in America

This is from Barna Research about Prayer in America:
“What we found gives us a much more nuanced portrait of the American prayer life. The most notable aspect of which is it’s individual quality. People pray mostly alone—it is a solitary activity defined primarily by the immediate needs and concerns of the individual. Corporate prayer and corporate needs are less compelling drivers in people’s prayer lives.”

“Though the vast majority of praying adults (89%) direct their prayers to “God,” they don’t all pray to the same god (if they pray to a deity at all). For instance, only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.”

“American adults who pray with regularity do so with varying motivations, the most common being to offer “gratitude and thanksgiving” (62%). Generationally, this is lowest among Millennials (53%) and highest among Boomers (71%). An equally popular prayer incentive is the “needs of their family and community” (61%), followed by “personal guidance in crisis” (49%). ”

“The generation most willing to cover prayer requests from others are Elders (47%), who are almost twice as likely to do so than Millennials (27%). Just less than half of praying adults (47%) most often direct prayers toward their own health and wellness.

“Almost all American adults (94%) who have prayed at least once in the last three months most often choose to pray by themselves. Not only are most prayers a solo practice, but the vast majority are also most often silent (82% compared to 13% audible and solo prayers). Affirming this shift is the fact that only a very small percentage most often pray audibly with another person or group (2%), or collectively with a church (2%).”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/silent-solo-americans-pray/

Dating Advice

Excerpt from this article: “The Golden Rule in Christian Dating”

“Have you ever tried to list out all the different dating advice you’ve heard….from other Christians?

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t date for any more than a year.
  • Date exclusively in groups.
  • Make sure you get plenty of time one on one.
  • Put clear boundaries into place.
  • Don’t try to follow everyone else’s rules.
  • Spend lots of time together.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t date anyone until you’re ready to marry them.

I could go on…

The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most. And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.

But after embracing and applying the first and greatest commandment, I have found that the golden rule in dating is this:

Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.

It’s not the first rule, because in absolutely every area of life — every decision, every calling, every relationship, every dream — we must start with what we think about God. Do we love him more than anything? Will we obey him, even when it will cost us? Are we willing to set anything aside for his sake? Will we trust him, even when we want something else for ourselves?

Today more than ever before, we’re faced with a never-ending buffet of opinions and advice that has something to say about everything and yet lets us choose the answer we want… The scary reality is that we can find an answer somewhere to justify what we want to do — right or wrong, safe or unsafe, wise or unwise. The advice we choose might be from a book by a doctor, or a random conversation with someone at church, or a blog post by a teenager, or just something we found on Pinterest. For many of us, if we’re honest, it really doesn’t matter who’s offering the advice as long as it confirms what we thought or wanted in the first place.

Real friendship, with real life-on-life accountability, may not offer the same amount of information or advice, and you will not always like what it has to say…The people willing to actually hold me accountable in dating have been my best friends. I’ve had lots of friends over the years, but the ones who have been willing to press in, ask harder questions, and offer unwanted (but wise) counsel are the friends I respect and prize the most.”

 

Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-golden-rule-in-christian-dating