Six Mega Shifts, Part 3

You may have read this study by Barna, but I think it is worth examining again as we try to reverse the tide of the declining effectiveness of our churches on the culture.  Here’s the mega shift

Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.

When asked what matters most, teenagers prioritize education, career development, friendships, and travel. Faith is significant to them, but it takes a back seat to life accomplishments and is not necessarily perceived to affect their ability to achieve their dreams.

Among adults the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success, and personal achievements. Those dimensions have risen at the expense of investment in both faith and family. The turbo-charged pace of society leaves people with little time for reflection. The deeper thinking that occurs typically relates to economic concerns or relational pressures.

Spiritual practices like contemplation, solitude, silence, and simplicity are rare. (It is ironic that more than four out of five adults claim to live a simple life.) Practical to a fault, Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities. Because we continue to separate our spirituality from other dimensions of life through compartmentalization, a relatively superficial approach to faith has become a central means of optimizing our life experience.”

This third trend should rock our world and cause us to look at how we preach, teach and present the Gospel.

What has happened to faith? It has taken a back seat to the American dream, success, creature comforts, and climbing the corporate ladder. We have a disease that Dave Ramsey calls “stuffitis.” We do not have time for significant relationships with family, friends much less our Creator because we are too busy trying to keep up with the Jones’ next door.

Notice this sentence, “Spiritual practices like contemplation, solitude, silence, and simplicity are rare.” This reflects a gap in our teaching on discipleship. Teaching people how to spend time with God on a daily basis and reflect on their life.

Part of this problem is the fact that much of our teaching and preaching does not have application. That is why many of our members have compartmentalized their faith on Sundays with their life during the week. In other words what happens on Sunday at church does not have any impact on what happens on Friday night or at work or school.

Are your members checking their faith at the door when they leave church on Sunday?

A compartmentalized faith is no faith at all. If our faith in Christ does not change, permeate, and affect every segment of our lives, then it is not New Testament faith at all.

We need to rediscover biblical discipleship in our churches.

“A disciple is a person-in-process who is eager to learn and apply the truths that Jesus Christ teaches him, which will result in ever-deepening commitments to a Christ-like lifestyle.” (Christopher B. Adsit)

“Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Discipleship is a step followed by a life-time walk of obedience.” (Mike James)

I would love to hear some of your ideas on how to make application as we preach and teach.

Keep the Son in Your Eyes,

Mike James


  1. Great thougths Chris. We can be practical and biblical at the same time because God’s word is always right on target. Thanks so much for your comment.
    Mike James

  2. Before I get to your question, I was teaching a similar line of thought last night in regards to worship rather than discipleship. I asked the question, “What is worship?” I received fairly standard church answers, such as “Being in awe of God,” and “Loving God.” These are true, of course, but I wanted to focus on another aspect of worship. I offered this definition: “a mindset that motivates.” Our thoughts about God ought to change the we way we live. If they don’t, that’s not worship. When we sing on Sunday morning, if our lives aren’t impacted by the truths we sing, it’s not worship.

    Now to answer your question, I think we need to stay immensely practical. This is what good preaching has always been. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be serving theologically deep sermons to our people…we should. But if they stay in the realm of abstract theology, we’ve failed. Our people need to be shown how greatly practical faith is.

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