Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Character Is Not Always an Actor In a Novel
Most agree with Barna that spiritual fruit is grown through character change, lifestyle shifts, attitudinal transitions, and spiritual process and commitments. [emphasis added]But is was what else the Barna study revealed that I found interesting:
However, Barna’s evidence is quite clear that relatively few Christians are serious about abandoning the lure of sin and handing total control of their lives over to God.It dawns on me while reading that how such can happen. How many times have I heard people lament that church has to be "real" somehow? I have been among them. This is born of the materialistic viewpoint of the average American, but it is also born of the need for a church, based on marketing models, to have a "product" to "sell."
He notes that most churches in America encourage congregations to engage in religious activities, which is good, but they are not the only answer to spiritual growth. “While growth in worship, discipleship, stewardship, service, study and other activities is important, people often fail to realize the end game of spiritual development is godly character, not worldly accomplishments,” Barna said.
Research also indicates that sometimes people get so wrapped up in church programs or producing specific religious results they lose sight of the purpose of their faith, which is to have a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
Barna noted that it becomes easy to substitute laudable religious activity for intentional and simple engagement with God. American Christians, in particular, have become known for doing good works and religious exercises rather than simply being friends and imitators of Christ.
As I reflect, I ask how do we bring the church back into touch with it supernatural moorings? That is to say, material change born not of the material but of the supernatural.
Well, prayer certainly, but I have seen that transformed into some sort of spiritual grunt. I wonder about art, liturgy and music. Although I have been to many places full of those only to watch prototypical "ugly Americans" trample them into meaninglessness.
Of course, ultimately transformed people breed transformed people. I am coming to believe that church universal must enter a period of internal focus - A time when we focus not on outreach but on maturity. We need to stop being babies making babies. That will result in some ugly stats for a while, and the end of some denominations.
But the Holy Spirit cannot be stopped.