Now relocated back at the Dryden Family base in Stoke-on-Trent and I’m glad for the weekend spent with my brother, his wonderful wife and their beautiful baby boy. We’ve been to Milton Keynes three times in the last two months and it always feels like a bit of a holiday going down there. It’s just cool chilling with them and their hospitality is ace. Sometimes it can be a bit suffocating going from one activity to another and it’s good to break it up with quality family time.
One of the things I learnt whilst down in MK and then in Harlesden for the blessing of their beautiful baby boy was the difficulty it is in actually getting second generation church children to genuinely having saving faith in Christ. In conversations and on reflection I saw how difficult it can be to have children who have been brought up in church to develop their own living faith in Christ that is free from the forms of Christian community in which they’ve grown and is solely based on their relationship with Christ.
One of the reasons that appears to be the case in my particular experience is that the gospel is easily assumed. It is not often refreshed and reinforced in the common life of the community. Likewise individuals are not challenged and encouraged in their sharing of the gospel not only among non-believers but among themselves and their families. Subsequently secondary issues are prioritised and we get wrapped up in petty issues of morality that is unrelated to dynamic spiritual growth in love and even more dangerously is completely detached from the crucial work of marrying heavenly pursuits with earthly sojourning. It is into such petty squabbles that people from the second generation feel obliged to join the church without any real sense of conviction or the desperate need for a new Spirit-filled life in Christ.
You may have noticed the running theme of the last few blog entries or so on biblical literacy. The link here is that in an environment not primarily focussed on Christ but the stuff around that like churchianity the Bible is not seen as a doorway in developing relationship with Christ but as a rule-book to maintain the status quo. Something that Jesus says gets to the heart of the problem with this approach to God’s Word.
You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, but you refuse to come to me for eternal life. (John 5:39, 40)
That mentality of getting the Word right but missing the whole point of the Word still dominates aspects of church life and infects that second generation factor of preserving the status quo rather than growing in grace and allowing others to do so and the necessary changes to church life that will bring. As a result it is no surprise that young people get frustrated with church life and members are virtually dying where they are because events come and events go but little changes in the actual lives of God’s people.
The answer to this issue is the individual impact we can make as we are convicted by the Spirit in how to make disciples. The answer lies in how we can build intentional confessional relationships with Jesus as the priority. The answer lies in how the personal individual vertical devotion and commitment to Christ segues into relational communal horizontal gospel connections that are not about boosting self-esteem but rather focussing on Christ-esteem and the sacrificial lifestyle based on righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We have a great opportunity of walking with Christ in our day to day lives and episodes of insight He gives as He leads us to fulfil His call on us. Focus on that I believe will have an impact on these issues and see genuine disciples being made convicted of sin, filled with the Spirit and committed to pursuing God with all they have and becoming Christ-like day by day.
For His Name's Sake