The Seven Christian Tasks
We live in an age of doubt about Christianity and it comes at a time when Christians are less and less able to speak intelligently about their faith. The surveys tell the tale. One poll revealed that a third of church-going Christians were unable to name the four Gospels. Another survey reported that just over 10 percent of those questioned thought the four gospels were “John, Paul, George and Ringo”—the names of the four Beatles!
There is a reason for this decline of Christian knowledge. It results from the loss of teaching in the ministry of most churches. The average church offers its members a Sunday morning service, perhaps a small group experience and various specialized ministries like a men’s ministry or an outreach program. But teaching time is declining dramatically in most churches and the result is the ignorance of the faith that plagues us now.
Scholars and pastors will debate this endlessly in conferences, but surely the beginning of a change is to simply identify what every Christian ought to know. Then, either with the help of their church or on their own, Christians can begin to acquire the knowledge they need to live meaningfully in our age. Here, then, are seven tasks that every Christian ought to be able to complete.
Be able to talk through the story of the Bible and to explain each biblical book in the context of that story.
Be able to talk through the earthly ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Be able to explain the basic doctrines of Christianity.
Be able to answer the primary objections to the Christian faith.
Be able to talk through the basic story of Church history.
Be able to explain the basic teachings of the major non-Christian religions.
Be capable of explaining the Christian faith to a non-Christian in a combination of your personal story and biblical truth.
Notice that the emphasis here is on being able to “talk through” a topic. Our goal should be casual, conversant command of a subject rather than the arid, intellectual, bookish approach which has failed us so miserably. If we get serious about this it should mean that we can sit in a Starbucks with friends and work on “talking through” a subject until we have the basics mastered. This will serve us well. We’ll find the whole process more enjoyable. We’ll remember what we rehearse far longer. We’ll also find that this “casual, conversant command” serves us better in articulating our faith to the outside world.
Let’s stop living as though being a Christian is tantamount to having a brain bypass. Christians once led the world of ideas and creativity. It can be so again if we will reclaim our lost passion for knowledge and skill.
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