Time and again I’ve heard leaders across the Churches of God General Conference request information and insights about how to engage with the ever-changing culture of the world around us. The requests have come through conversations, our annual ministry reviews, and through a survey I’ve recently conducted. Things seem to be moving at an increasing pace and just as we think we’ve gotten on solid ground, the proverbial rug is pulled out. We’re desperate for an understanding of the culture and a Biblical approach to living and ministering in it.
I believe the new book by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons is a tremendous resource for the Church and the CGGC. Good Faith seeks to share how to be a Christian of “good faith” when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme. Kinnaman is the leader of Barna and Lyons is the leader of Q. Throughout the book they not only offer information through data, but go the next level by offering practical insights about what the data means for us as the Church.
Two insights in particular caught my attention. The first answers the question of how we live out good faith into an uncertain future. Kinnaman and Lyons offer three essential and balanced components of good faith: love, believe, and live. We first start with rightly ordered love – loving God and loving others. When we’re missing love we come across arrogant, abrasive, and off-putting. The phrase “I’m just telling it like it is” comes to mind. Next we believe, which recognizes that theology and Biblical orthodoxy matters. Belief “allows us to identify and correct distortions in the world, in the church, and in our own thinking”. Lastly, how we live our love and beliefs is significant. We must channel our love and beliefs from heart and head into our daily lives.
The second insight that stood out to me is in regards to discipleship. The authors had done some work in Scotland, a post-Christian context, assessing the difference between growing churches and churches that were plateaued or declining. They listed nine factors that impacted church health in an increasingly secular culture. The first four are external: prioritizing outreach by serving the poor and sharing faith, partnering with other churches and causes, being innovative for the sake of the gospel, and focusing on receptive teens and young adults. Another four factors were internal: teaching the Bible thoroughly, fostering close Christian community, developing new leaders, and leading with a team that has diverse skills and spiritual gifts. The ninth factor was that growing churches prayed missionally and made prayer a mission.
If you’re looking for a resource to help guide your life and ministry in the current state of the world and into the future – you need to read this book.