Faith Fundamentals By Jon Lewis
Stewarding Faith Fundamentals
Faith fundamentals are worthy of our attention. Recently I came across the latest biannual survey results from Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research that measures the theological temperature of the evangelical church in the United States. Although the statistics on attitude shifts within the general U.S. adult population were predictable, the data corresponding to changes in thinking of evangelical Christians, especially during the past two years, was particularly disturbing. Most notable among the survey results were the following percentages of church-going evangelicals that now believe. . .
- all men are born innocent in the eyes of God—65%
- God accepts the worship of all religions equally—56%
- Jesus was a great teacher by not actually God—43%
- the Bible is not accurate or literally true—26%
- religious belief is a matter of opinion and not objective truth—38%
- gender identity is a matter of personal choice—37%
The conclusion given in the study was that “Americans increasingly reject the divine origin and complete accuracy of the Bible,” and there is clear evidence that evangelicals are embracing a more secular worldview.
All of this tells me of a desperate need for a renewed call for Christian leaders to steward the fundamentals of our faith. Let me suggest three different levels at which this stewarding discipline needs to happen by referencing the following concentric circle diagram:
Level 1 – Personal
Stewarding a clear understanding of fundamental Christian faith must begin with a personal commitment to biblical truth. We cannot rely only on our historic training from Sunday School, Bible institute, or past leadership seminars. Maintaining an uncompromising grasp of biblical teaching and God’s values, especially in the midst of today’s challenging cultural moment, demands a disciplined personal devotional life and a practical habit of study, both of God’s Word as well as other contemporary writing by fellow believers also grappling with the challenge of a relevant faith. Any stewardship effectiveness at the other two levels will not be possible without this sort of personal foundation.
Level 2 – Family
Regardless of the fact that stable family units are becoming more of a rarity in our contemporary society, I still believe this is the next most important backstop of maintaining understanding and commitment to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. From informal table talk to regular times of family devotions, children (especially in the impressionable 3-to 10-year-old period) will receive more faith foundation in this context than any other. That is why the choices we make in terms of how we spend our family time, especially in balancing the demands of school, sports, and other extra-curricular activities, are truly stewardship choices. I believe few things could have more impact on assuring the next generations’ commitment to orthodox faith than this sort of consistent, family focus.
The fact that evangelical Christians are becoming more and more swayed by secular ideologies is a direct commentary on the lack of seriousness that our church communities take for teaching and promoting apologetics in Sunday School, small groups and from the pulpits of our churches. Powerful praise services, thematic sermon series, and therapeutic counseling are all important and valuable, but should never be a substitute for the priority of helping church membership know and understand the fundamentals of biblical truth. And this cannot be simply an occasional effort, but a consistent discipline of being reminded how to live in the world as faithful people of God. As Christian leaders, the stewarding of this sort of learning within our community and church institutions is more critical than ever.
A Prayer to Apply
My prayer is that, as we become more effective in stewarding each of these three application levels of our Christian beliefs, we will actually begin to see a reversal in survey trends indicating that God’s people are indeed reclaiming a worldview perspective firmly grounded on orthodox faith fundamentals.
Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International and focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders towards greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40-years of experience, he also served as a MAF mission pilot in Africa and CEO of Partners International.
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