Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unaffiliated

"Religious landscape in flux---unaffiliated ranks growing" so says the tease on MSNBC news. Everyone seems to be talking about this "new phenomenon". I read the articles and listened to the news. What the world is talking about is what we, in the Church, have been talking about for several years: our kids, kids who have grown up in the Church, are not remaining faithful into adulthood. We knew this and have been discussing what we need to do to keep our kids in the faith. It doesn't seem that we have been able to come up with any foolproof formulas, so I was very interested to see what "advice" the world had to offer-----they had none. Nor were they able to single out a cause for this "new phenomenon". They really didn't seem to care about the issue but merely the newsworthy fact that it is happening. However in reading and listening, I think they may have unwittingly shed some light on the subject.
Notice the title? UNAFFILIATED--the word means "not associated with", or "having no relationship with" or "without intimacy, association or connection as in illegitimate". Hmm.....
Perhaps the reason "religion" is in flux or fluid or ebbing and flowing, has to do with the fact that many "religious" people are not associated with Christ or God. They have no relationship with Him, and no connection. They are as illegitimate children-children without knowledge of their Father.
The world does not know God. In fact, His very name is used as often as an expletive as it is in praise. The beauty of His world is frequently lost in the ingratitude of its inhabitants. His power is ignored, His promises denied and His commands refused. Oh how His heart must break! How He must long for His children to come home. The Bible tells us that He wants nothing more than for us to be associated with Him. In fact, He worked out all eternity soliciting our affiliation. He loves us and desires our love and our lives. HE wants to be affiliated with us. HE wants an intimate relationship with us. And yet, we remain----in flux.
As Christians, we cannot ignore this phenomenon. While it is not new, it is also not going away! We have to teach, preach, disciple and example. We have to not just convert but also mature. We have to guard the hearts and minds of our children, guiding them in their spiritual walk. We have to nurture their affiliation with God, encourage them to have a personal and intimate faith, one that is enduring and consistent. Likewise, we must continue to prioritize our lives, making our relationship with God important, pressing and urgent. We must continually live lives that show we belong to Him, lives of purpose and passion. We cannot allow our spiritual lives to be "in flux" for we are God's people, we are Christian and it is with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit we choose to be affiliated!
Blessings
Neva

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Great post, Neva! You always make me think.

Pat

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Amen!


Carlos

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are spot on, sister. It is impossible to remain faithful throughout life if you do not have a deep intimate relationship with God. Keep up the good work!


Dan

5:40 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Wonderful and timely post. How can we expect our children to have a relationship with Christ if we are not showing them that He is the center of our own lives. If we are not experiencing true relationship with Him, what do they have to go on?
Josh McDowell is addressing this very topic in his True Foundations ministry. For more info. go to: http://www.beyondbelief.com.
I am so glad that yo are feeling better and back filling us with your wonderful and insightful words.

8:18 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
I believe it is in the way we are reaching this generation. We need to adapt our worship to be more "emerging". We must change the way we see the Church, worship must change. Dan Kimball in His book The Emerging Church: Vintange Christianity for the New Generation says, "While many of us have been preparing sermans and keeping busy with itneral affairs of our churches, something alarming has been happening outside. What once was a Christian nation with Judeo-Christian worldview is quickly becoming a post-Christian, unchurched, unreached nation. New generations are arising are arising all arounds without any Christians influence. So we must rethink ritually everything we are doing in our ministries."

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I marvel at your mind--I read the same article but never thought of the application. i am so glad you do think about those things. You keep me inspired and challenged.
thanks Neva.

Carol

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Jarrod said...

You make a great point. we cannot just make more and more wishy washy christians and expect them to remain faithful.

Jarrod

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,

I am not sure what article you are referring to. But, there was the release of the results of a recent Pew study. If you are speaking of this, I have several things to say. Even if not these results, I still have a response.

First, if we are talking about kids leaving 'the church' are we talking about leaving the particular denomination? The Pew study showed that most are swapping or identifying themselves as unaffiliated with a particular denomination. ALL the denominations are a sin! It is never right to divide. They are right to be done with all the pettiness and bickering and etc. It makes me want to puke most the time. Money is at the root of most of it. Yes we are to be genuine, authentic ... But it is all about money. Spending every dollar we can find to pay staff and build more and more impressive edifices.Yes the valuable part of faith can be taught in this atmosphere but it is choking out the hopes of most at the same time.

As for us becoming a non-christian nation, this same Pew survey reports over 51% of this country are evangelical or mainline protestant! Over 25% are Catholic. There are a variety of other categories listed including the JW and Mormons as well as Black oriented churches. I did not make the categories. Churches were asked to identify themselves. The point is few were Moslem's or Buddhist etc. And most those who were were born into those religions. When over 3/4 of this country are still somewhere between fundamentalist and evangelical I think we are still in some respects a 'Christian nation'. Do we have alot to grow in? Yes! Do we hjave hope? YES! enough of the gloom and doom.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Neva!

This has been the subject of conversation in various venues recently. Here are some of the points others have made in those conversations:

1-Like any other living organism, the Church too must change, grow while maintaining its healthy root system,; those of immutable doctrinal beliefs. But emphasis will and must change.

For instance, my generation was well instructed in the Pauline letters, in particular, with just enough of the four gospel writers to understand the foundational beliefs that Paul proffers for our growth. However, our young people want a relationship with Jesus, not Paul. Are we helping them in that quest?

2-We have ignored the commands given by that same Paul we so rely on in his epistle to Titus. Instead of keeping our younger people close, we separate them from nursery age through college in the separate programs and them cut them lose - they have NO idea what's going on in the 'larger' body of the church.

These are just two of the problems I see but not the only ones. Our marriages are in trouble, which impacts the young hearts, for instance But this is long enough, too long as a matter of fact. But I feel we really need to make a change in how much we actively take part in our kids' lives - or do we shunt them off too often into programs in which we have NO part?

thanks so much, Neva for bringing up this problem. Praying with you!

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Interested Bystander said...

Dear Anonymous,
I think the point was that anyone who is spiritually unaffiliated is in trouble. You cannot be affiliated with God and unaffiliated with His church. It just doesn't work that way. And in order for us to keep our kids in the church, we have to instill in them not only a loyalty to God but also to His church. Yes, we have a lot of growing room and yes there are some problems with the church but I don't believe you ever hear Neva say there is no hope. In fact, the exact opposite. She exposes the negative while encouraging us with ways to combat it --her posts are not doom and gloom but rather straightforward, this is a problem, let's fix it. This post is no different.

Interested Bystander

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interested Bystander,

I was addressing the premise of our loosing folks. The point I was making is, I keep hearing all this talk about 'loosing our kids'. What do we think they are being lost to or from. "The Church" tends to be seen as an us and them kinda thing. "The Church" is our little circle. If I move from a Baptist congregation to an unaffiliated church it does not mean I cease to be a part of the Christian faith. It only says that I no longer want to be viewed in a narrow pigeon hole.

The second point was that Chrisitanity is not loosing the ground some would like to suggest. Only some of the denominational titles are loosing ground. So I don't want to be a Baptist! Is that cause for worry?

Amen Neva, we need to live out our faith.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Interested Bystander said...

Anonymous,
The call for worry is that the church is no longer distinct--many people think "every faith is okay and any faith is better than no faith" That ia a complete contradiction to God's word. He says there is only one Church, only one Bride. And she is called Christian. Throughout eternity, it has always been an "us and them" situation--hence "God's choseen people". He has always set apart a small group from the masses and He has called them to be different! So the fact that we are watering down our faith to accept and include every belief out there or even most beliefs so long as they don't sacrifice live animals or practice voodoo or whatever is just plain wrong. Neva's point seems to be that without a strong attachment, an intimate relationshp and an "affiliation" with God and His Church, one cannot be saved--one cannot be spiritually okay!
A kid or an adult for that matter who worships sporadically and in a way that pleasees themself rather than God is "lost"--that is losing our kids--I don't care what you call them, baptists, whatever. If they are wishy washy and unaffiliated with God or His bride then yes, my friend, we have lost them.
Interested Bystander
BTW--if you read the OT and the NT, God "pigeonholed" HIs people. HE said you are not like them--you worship this way.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Bystander [interesting nic in light of your statements re affiliation. ;) ]

You say "He [God] has always set apart a small group from the masses and He has called them to be different!"

I wonder what Jesus meant then in John 12:31-33? Does "all men" mean just a few or did He mean ALL men?

Please understand, I deeply believe there are many scriptural reasons we should definitely be "affiliated" with a congregation in the Body of Christ, His Church. I'd be surprised if many here disagreed with that belief. But what do you think is lacking in our teaching of our young people that they do NOT feel an urgency of belief? And having defined what the problem - what is the solution? What do we need to change in our methods that will speak to the kids' hearts sparking fire for the LORD?

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Interested Bystander said...

Kathy,
All men are loved by God but not all choose him. I think Neva once posted that it is like a marriage proposal and while the groom, in this case Jesus, may propose--the bride is not His until she says yes---so while God does wish all men would choose Him, He tells us that few will.
I don't know the answer--I was simply responding to anonymous' misperception that Neva was somehow promoting doom and gloom and lack of hope.
The point is that there are not as many Christians with a faith they would die for--our faith, like our bodies has become weak and lazy--not all of us, but many. We need restoration and revival and we need it dearly---not just for our kids but for all of us. It is a problem and before it becomes a crisis we need to do something.

Interested Bystander

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Interested Bystander said...

BTW--"Interested Bystander" is my nickname for commenting on blogs--I promise you I am much more than a bystander in the Lord's work.
I am proud to be a member of the Lord's church, working and evangelizing and discipling my community.

IB

9:44 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Bystander,

"It is a problem and before it becomes a crisis we need to do something."

I totally agree with you, in fact I fear it is already a crisis. My question is what is the solution to this problem? What is it "we need to do...?"

10:06 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I also wonder if the idea of the baby boomer generations attitude of it doesn't matter where you worship plays a role into they staying in the Church of Christ.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,
Please, please do not feel I am trying to say you are a prophet of gloom and doom. Yes we need to be affiliated with Christ and his body. I will make this one last comment on the subject.

Bystander,

The world is going to Hell, yes I believe in that, because we are too busy drawing our circles and deciding who is us. We draw the circles smaller and smaller and eventually wander about even our closest fellow brother or sister because "they are watering down the faith".

Our job is to teach others about the grace and mercy of God. On judgment day I would rather have tried to show the love of God to the world and have been a little to accepting in some people's eyes than to look into the eyes of the lost on that day because I was too arrogant and selfish to get out and get about the real work of the church.

I am sure there are people who think it is so sad because I left their denomination. I did not leave Christ but am tired of all the defensive rhetoric of the denominational world.

Affiliated with Christ alone

5:37 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

"Affiliated with Christ alone"

AMEN!!

11:17 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
Pray, Pray, Pray,
Teach your children.
Don't talk bad about the Church.
Lead by example.
I believe these things are key.
Again, thanking you so much for this important post.
In Him
Kinney Mabry

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't know how anyone can be affiliated with Christ and not with His bride. I personally would not appreciate one who chose an affiliation with me and not my bride.
Secondly--the point is that we are losing our children from "faith filled living" because they are neither committed to the church nor to the Savior.
IMO

6:01 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
This post has really challenging me to think about how things have changed in the church of Christ over the many years. Do we preach a "Barney Gospel"? What I mean by a "Barney Gospel is the theme song, I love you, you love me, were just one big family with a great big huge and a kiss from me to you won't you say you love me too?" I think we have compromised on some doctronial issues for the sake of getting along with other Churches. In the past people hated the "church of Christ". We were known as the people who believe we were the only ones going to heaven and had all the "right answers". We were so "judgemental" where I believe now youth ministers and others preach: It doesn't matter where you go to Church. It doesn't matter where you worship. So, if the church of Christ is boring why wouldn't our younger generations go to congregations that are full of life and energy. It doesn't matter anyway, right?

9:13 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Is the church of Christ just going to be a "Church for the older generation that don't want any change even if that change means that we can be effective in reaching the younger generations. So we see churches that are changing the names of their Churches left and right. Grace Community Church. Oak Hills Church. Quail Springs Church. GCR. Other emerging churches are changing their names and putting at the end in small letters (a church of Christ). Does it matter? I do believe the older generation needs to understand that we aren't living in the 1950's any more and the things that made a difference in 1950 no longer works in 2008! Yes we may be comfortable with 1950's worship but you know what- Christ never called us to comfort but to take up our CROSS'S Daily and become committed disciples making a difference in the world in which we live.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Keith Davis said...

Awesome post!!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Abiding In Christ, Amen! said...

Hey Neva,

You've been on my mind. Wanted to stop by and check in on you.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Great post and comments!

How are you feeling? Last time I stopped by you were sick.

Praying for you,

Lori

6:33 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
I want you to know sister that this is one of the most excellent discussions going on right now. I think it needs to be talked about. I think our youth ministers, Sr. Ministers, and shephards as well as parents should be concerned. As I mention over and over again we need to be willing to chage if we need to do so. I will be praying sister. I want you to know that I love you blog. I check it every day. Keep up the wonderful blogging.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry.

I am in continual prayer for this situation. It isn't just your congregation. It is effecting every congregation. We must pray and pray ferverantly.

8:30 PM  

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