Downward Slide

December 26, 2014

Steel Slide

Ed Stetzer offers thoughts on the paradox he sees growing in Evangelical circles: Church planting and other ministry initiatives are on the rise, while evangelism is suffering a downward slide.

Stetzer: Downward Slide

2 Responses to “Downward Slide”

  1. Jim Says:

    That was a good article, thanks for sharing it!

    From the article:

    “We see that in research. Over the past few years LifeWay Research has studied North American Christians and our research has turned up a glaring lack of concern for evangelism. The research indicates that Christians know they should share their faith, they just don’t.”

    I think the author has an interesting take on the issue, but is missing the point. What I have seen is a complete lack of pastoral care and nurture of believers. Many churches now focus on reaching the “seeker” to the detriment of the believers. The result, as Barna noted in a 2010 study is that the church is weak and has little depth. The church is in effect, dying on the vine.

    No wonder the body isn’t interested in reaching out.

    Recently I read one of the oldest recorded Catechism’s of the church. It is called the Cathecism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem c. 350 AD. (If you want to be challenged, read it here in modern English: http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/legacy/content/books/catechism.pdf

    Tthe Coptic church STILL uses this to teach the faith to new converts!)

    I was absolutely stunned by the depth of teaching these “seekers” and new believers received. It is breath taking! No wonder so many of those believers were willing to die for the faith.

    We don’t do a good job of teaching the faith to the ones who have been evangelized and it shouldn’t be a surprise when they don’t feel any obligation to live for their faith.

    People who are well grounded in the faith, who are willing to live and die for it don’t usually have a problem sharing the gospel with others.

  2. Dennis Griffith Says:

    Jim,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I concur with your assessment of the shallowness so commonly evident in our churches. And I concur with the reasoning you offered – lack of effort to cultivate genuine disciples, perhaps because the energy is being expended for the sake of more attractional efforts. While I do not know Ed Stetzer personally, I have read enough of his stuff to feel like I do, and I suspect he would agree with you as well.

    While I think you have identified the deep problem, what I appreciate is what Stetzer identifies in this article. I suspect many would not see a problem where he does. It seems to me he is trying to confront the missional busyness that exists, but which lacks the proclamation of the message for which we are sent out on mission in the first place. So many are engaging the culture in tremendous ways, and yet failing to do the very thing we are sent on mission to do – make disciples of Jesus. Sometimes the mission – or perhaps a better description, the activity – seems to be an end to itself. I see Stetzer essentially saying: “Folks, all the activity is great, much better than doing nothing, but the activity is ultimately worthless if the gospel is not effectively applied.”

    Again, I appreciate your thoughts. And again, I agree, if people recognized, at deeper levels, what Christ has done for us, I suspect the gospel would ooze more freely in our daily encounters. The answer to the dilemma Stetzer raises is not simply to point out a problem, and then guilt folks into doing better. The answer is what you suggest, cultivate heartfelt followers of Jesus, and set them loose.

    And thanks for the link and endorsement of the catechism.

    ~WDG


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