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Less Can Mean More

 —  April 15, 2014 — 4 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.58.12 PMMinistry always changes because people always change. Some change is natural due to cultural influence while other change is simply a natural reaction to what was emphasized by previous generations. Either way you look at it, our focal points in our ministries are constantly evolving.

Or, at least they should be.

That said, here are two things I think we need to see LESS of in ministry to college-age people. I must warn you. At first glance, these may seem highly un-spiritual.  Just hear me out, because I think less of these two things means much more in others.

  1. Less focus on spiritual discipline.   I understand discipline is necessary for godliness, but we can also mistake discipline for godliness.  If we are not careful, placing too much emphasis on spiritual disciplines inevitably causes us to over emphasize what we believe to be proper behavior for Christians rather than the faith, love, and hope Christians ought to be motivated by. The fact is spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, etc. are byproducts of faith and not producers of it.  We must be very careful with this distinction and make sure we are not emphasizing behaviors vs. faith.  Younger generations are extremely sensitive to being behavior managed.  I discuss this extensively in my latest book, Losing Your Religion.  But, here I would simply say the less focus on behavior management systems that try to get people to do things for God lends more room for us to emphasize the motivations of faith, love, and hope that free us to do things because of God.
  2. Less focus on gaining more information.  Spiritual maturity is not defined by how much knowledge we possess. Memorizing Proverbs doesn’t make me wise.  Learning more about God and what it means to follow Jesus through the scriptures is, of course, important and especially for those that know almost nothing about scripture.  However, in my experience, our emphasis should be much more on seeking to embrace what we already know. So, to be clear, we are not negating knowledge, but instead, valuing it to such a degree that we actually emphasize embracing it practically.

Chuck Bomar

Chuck Bomar

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Chuck Bomar planted and is Lead Pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon and is founder of both CollegeLeader (www.CollegeLeader.org) and iampeople (www.iampeople.org). He is author of six books, with the most recent being the highly anticipated work titled, Better Off Without Jesus (August 7, 2012). When he is not traveling the country speaking at conferences or consulting with church or denominational leaders, he is home with his family, the place he loves to be more than any other. Chuck and his wife, Barbara, have three beautiful daughters: Karis, Hope and Sayla.

4 responses to Less Can Mean More

  1. Your statement “The fact is spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, etc. are byproducts of faith and not producers of it.” Dude, this is so backwards. Bible study and prayer PRODUCE faith. “Faith comes by ….” you finish the verse.

    • Chuck Bomar

      Thanks for your comment here. I guess it depends on how you think about it. I would, however, encourage you to read Ephesians 2:4-9 that seems to directly oppose your idea of what produces faith.

    • I agree with what Jim said. It is through hearing the word of God, either verbally, by reading, or by the Spirit, that our faith is formed and grown. The verses in Ephesians you reference mention faith as a step in salvation. It is by God’s grace we can be saved but without faith we cannot be saved. The works are not talking about reading and studying, it’s talking about doing good things to get you into heaven. Those works are your byproduct of salvation, which is a byproduct of faith.

      • Chuck Bomar

        Good articulation Dan. I agree that the Ephesians passage is talking about saving faith, which is what I was focusing on…and why I wrote “it depends on how you look at it.” So, to be clear, I agree with your articulation. My aim, in both this post as well as in Losing Your Religion, is to simply point out the dangers of focusing on certain behaviors/habits rather than manifestations of faith, love and hope. Those lines are unfortunately very easily and often blurred in ministry contexts, which I hoped the rest of the paragraph provides context for the specific sentence we are discussing here. Thanks for the discussion!

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