Exploring a #1stFaith is fun. When I think about connecting with those ideals and thoughts of the very first men and women to advance a faith that shook the world, it’s exciting.
Because–and if you follow this blog much you’re getting a re-run–if we can truly find what mattered most to the first followers of Jesus, it only makes sense that we would see the same results they had.
Their results literally changed the world around them. Our results today? Let’s be honest, we’re not in their league. This isn’t a brutal criticism of modern Christianity; it’s just the truth. And the truth is, we can do better.
Today, most church growth (not all, but most) comes about because Christians are moving from one church to another. The hot church in town has a fresh take on worship, or a new pastor who is drawing in big crowds.
There’s nothing wrong with good worship, or a pastor who communicates well. And sometimes, a shift in worship or a better communicator brings in people of faith who were sitting at home instead of coming to church. That’s certainly good.
But still. Down deep we know today’s Christianity is not influencing people as did the early church. I don’t need reams of statistics, polls and surveys to prove that out. It’s obvious.
One study (okay, I am throwing out one) indicated that 80% of Americans stay home on Sunday morning (and away from church on other days, too). If Christianity today is influencing our country, why are four out of five Americans voting “no” when it comes to going to church?
I know “the church is not a building, it’s people.” And I also know going to a worship service is not the only indicator of faith. But it’s one way to measure and on at least this metric, the measurements are slipping.
So what’s the answer? Better doctrine? Being frank, the church might need to rethink some confusing but entrenched doctrines. But that’s for another day (or week, or month).
But here’s another thought, from Jesus talking with his disciples just after The Last Supper. Picture the scene for a second. They’ve all gone out from this powerful gathering, Judas is off to betray him and Jesus has more to say.
The eleven are listening, probably leaning in close so they don’t miss a word. Jesus says (John 13:34), “Where I am going, you cannot come.” Ahhh, the cross. They don’t know this is coming, but they know Jesus’ mood is shifting toward a determination to do something which seems foreboding.
Then, Jesus continues. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Look at that; Jesus is repeating himself.
Then, he does it again in the following verse: “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Seems to me Jesus is saying the best way to connect to the world is by looking out for each other, encouraging each other and standing by each other. In short, through love. If they see our love, they’ll be drawn to faith.
So “What’s Love Got to Do” with a 1st Faith? With a nod to Tina Turner, a lot.
People then, and people today, need connection. They need to know someone cares. It’s the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care–about them.”
If I want a powerful, world-changing faith, it starts not by knowing a bunch of stuff–but the hard way; loving those around me. Because if I get that part right, others will know who I am; a disciple.
A bit of honesty here? I spend a lot of time trying to learn about a 1stFaith.
But how much time am I spending making sure I love others? Am I connecting with them? Checking in with a text or a phone call? Or am I caught up in everything from entertainment to trying to write my next post?
Jesus tells me it all starts with me being a better connector; better at loving those who walk with me on this road. From there, I can be so much more effective in sharing the power of a 1st Faith.
Why? Because even before I say it, someone will see it.