Today, American culture differs from Jesus’ day considerably, not the least of which is the core of our self-understanding. In the first century church people saw themselves as a member of a group; today people see themselves as autonomous individuals. Today, shame is a concern only to how the individual perpetrator looks to others – whether he or she would look foolish or incompetent replaces a concern for the reputation of the family or group. The idea of guilt or shame has changed from a social issue to a psychological issue.
Today we are facing a fight similar to the battle facing Paul and Timothy with an equally determined body of false teachers and false doctrine. The public access media bombards people with immoral material. Advertising and the cultural spending frenzy has resulted in an idolatry of materialism even among Christians. Wells argues that the church is experiencing “a hollowing out of evangelical conviction.” There has been a loss in the belief the Bible is authoritative and a wearing away of personal character – an issue that Paul attacked in his day. Wells also argues that comparing and contrasting those claiming spiritual rebirth and those who admit to being “secularists,” “no discernible ethical differences are evident” and “the church is losing its voice.”
The problems may not be just the false teachers and false doctrine; some of the problem may be in the church itself. One question facing the church is whether church leaders possess the values and resultant behaviors it will take to surface and fight against the false doctrine and false teachers. Possibly many pastors have become part of the core of false teachers without even realizing it; their inability to discern may be the problem.
According to a Barna survey, the average Protestant pastor believes that 70% of the adults in their church place Christ as their first priority, while only 15% of the adults agreed. Why the difference? The answer Barna discovered is that “few pastors rely on criteria that reflect genuine devotion to God.” David Kinnaman of the Barna Group said, “people’s moral profile is more likely to resemble that of their peer group than it is to take shape around the tenets of a person’s faith.”
Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart
When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world