Introduction

Once more civilization finds herself resurfacing into the bigotry culture of relativism absent from moral objectivity, hence the intention of this blog is an attempt to answer the question, how did the Church of Jesus Christ, the custodians of God’s revelation of reality, allow this to happen on Her watch? As we reflect upon the purpose stated in Kevin G. Smith’s book, A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics, undoubtedly a valuable book written to address several important factors, for instance, the reasons for the moral dilemma in the world and a Church that behaves accordingly (Smith 2012). Smith, specifically focuses on challenging Christians and pastors to reconsider the philosophical necessity of having a sound biblical worldview. Which he argues is Her answer to internal cohesion and relevance and for believers to make sense out of reality (Smith 2012).  Another object is to consider that even with the exponential growth of evangelical Christianity, one would think by now we’d be experiencing a cultural revolution and that secular values would be diminishing in its influence? Our endless prayer meetings, countless responses to our modern-day Charles Finney styled “alter calls” and still the question we asking despite the presence and growth of evangelical Christianity, why have we hardly caused a ripple in secular culture (David 1993, 295)?  Could the “miles wide but an inch deep” reality of the Church’s intellectual inability to make sense out of reality be hindering the Church’s witness?

1.   Truths To Consider

In this section, I’d like to discuss three truths I’ve learnt in Smith’s book,  A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics and explore why I believe these truths are most expedient for the Church to yield to.

Worldviews shape behaviour

There is no question that (your) mentality determines (your) reality (Proverbs 23:7), on top of this, Smith points out that reality determines morality (Smith 2012).  That is to say that how we behave is determined by what we believe or think.  If we ask the question, what is reality? We may answer that reality is the lens we use by which we make sense of life or existence. This lens is important because we’ve learnt that it defines our worldview. Our worldview is important because it shapes our behaviour (Smith 2012).

Component of a worldview

We’ve learnt that whether people realise it or not, everyone has a worldview, yet, not everyone’s worldview is sound.  Adopting the matrix of what makes for a sound worldview by both Ronald Nash and Glen Martin, I’ve learnt that whatever your religious presuppositions may be, one cannot merely assume what one believes about reality is true.  A sound worldview must answer or argue with a statement and premise, concluding in a truth claim which best argues (Isa 1:18) the facts at hand (Moreland 2017, 168), based in the following basic questions of: Origin – the origin, nature, role and destiny of both universe and mankind; Ethics – how life is structured; and Knowledge – how do we know what we know (Smith 2012).

Three main ways Christians use to gain knowledge

I’ve learnt that we all are entitled to our viewpoint but every viewpoint must be substantiated by the simple question “how did you come to that conclusion”?  How do we warrant what we believe or disbelieve (Moreland 2017, 175)? There are three ways Christians learn.  In order of importance, they are Revelation, Reason and Experience (Smith 2012).  Of course, the Atheist deifies reason while rejecting revelation, the seen above the unseen, the free above the pre-determined (Moreland 2017, 435).    The Biblical Christian understands that God Himself is the source of truth and reality, the seen and the unseen (2 Cor 4:18, cf. Heb 9:11).

 

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2.   Questions I Have

We’ve uncovered the shocking reality of precisely how few Christians have a biblical worldview, as Smith mentions, as he further cites Barna’s shocking states which say that only 50 per cent of pastors and only nine per cent of Christians living in America live their lives consistent with the “why” the Bible describes. Evangelical Christianity is growing, yet when this impact is measured against social transformation indicators and cultural impact, the Church has not even caused a ripple.   The question then begs: even if only half of pastors or one-tenth of Christians hold a biblical worldview, how is it possible for the same to still maintain a liberal worldview? How can one hold a biblical worldview and still vote for a political party that has endorsed nonbiblical values?  How is it that we host national prayer meetings, large evangelical crusades, extend endless altar calls, pray for God’s will to prevail, invite the lost to forsake the kingdom of darkness for the Kingdom of light but still, vote for the values of darkness or live like the world? A recent example that illustrates this is the Trump and Biden elections which caused much division within the Church.  Trump may not have been diplomatic and perfect but his political views were closer to biblical values than Biden’s, whose endorsed abortion and same-sex marriage.  In South Africa, it is not uncommon for the Church to stand with political parties who have anti-biblical agendas.  One could ask, how are such double standards possible and where do we begin to fix this?

3.   Changed My Thinking

The ultimate goal of the Scriptures is to equip us for good works (Eph 2:10).   If God is the source ( 2 Pet 1:21) and the four functions serve to guide us in our decisions and in helping us decide right from wrong (2 Tim 3:16-17), then Scriptures provide us with an authoritative source about reality. God tells us what is true.  He then shows us how to live.  Paul used the same approach in his letters to the Colossians and Ephesians.  He first focuses on theology and then on practice.  Again one observes that. what one believes determines how one behaves (Smith 2012).

Conclusion

Due to the compromise of the inability to define reality within the Church, we are seeing the cultural re-emergence of first-century Roman-Greco beliefs intensify its opposing views and ridicule Christian values.  We are seeing the Bride oscillate between the impact of seventeenth-century intellectual liberalism (Enlightenment) and Her centuries of old and distasteful dogmatism and legalism as she grows deeper and deeper, decade after decade, in irrelevance and weakens in unity, mainly due to the absence of unified biblical worldviews.  We sense the urgency for Christians and pastors to reconsider the question of “what is reality”, using the Bible as the only lens of interpretation.

 

Works Cited

  1. David F. Wells 1993. No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?  United States: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.  
  2. Moreland JP., and William L. Craig, eds. 2017. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Illinois: IVP Academic Intervarsity Press.
  3. Smith, G Kevin. 2014. A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics. South Africa: South African Theological Seminary.

 

 

Hungry for meaningful community and authentic relationships, people involved in this spontaneous movement worldwide are learning the Kingdom’s values firsthand, through smaller church meetings.   

Barna says (Barna, 2009), when the focus shifts from geography and independence to the individual’s faith experience or spiritual expression with much less structure and formalities, “people are especially likely to recall such participation.” This may be primarily so because people can take part in some form or the other, instead of feeling like a bystander.  

Although these new expressions of church are just dotting the landscape, they already cover the landscapes of other nations around the world. Places like China, Central Asia, Latin America, India and Iran have experienced tremendous growth through small, simple churches that disciple and empower participants to be “the Church.”

 

When the church becomes a way of life, not a way in life: Discipleship and growth occur naturally, as everyone develops their gifts and learns by doing under the mentoring of spiritual fathers and mothers Click To Tweet

A Way of Life

When the church becomes a way of life, not away in life: Discipleship and growth occur naturally, as everyone develops their gifts and learns by doing under the mentoring of spiritual fathers and mothers ( Gal 4:19).

The Future of Church

The gathered church will never stop and while this may be true, but the church that loves her model more than the mission will. There is no doubt that today, the online church has become a back door for Christians who are done with attending church. However, the online church can never replace the gathered church. 

Cary Nieuwhoff, says, but, for those who are not done with the gathered church … they still need community.  Yet within a few years, a new role for online church and ministry will emerge as the dust settles. With the new front door, the online church, has much greater potential to reach the curious, unconvinced, and those who want to know what Christianity is all about. 

But is our congregation and leadership ready for the catch? 

Today there is almost no one who visits a hotel or restaurant without first checking it out online? A church’s online presence will [is], be, the first home for people, which for many, will lead to a personal connection with Christ and ultimately the gathered church. It is wise, therefore, for a pastor to invest in an online presence and for his congregation to support their church’s efforts to embrace change.   

Smaller is Smarter

The Covid-19 pandemic sent all the statisticians back to the drawing board. Until 2019, the future of Megachurches seemed bright and leaders felt unstoppable. After a global standstill, many leaders are re looking at the effectiveness of their church model. 

The future church will become larger, as Niewhoff says it,  “not because they necessarily gather thousands in one space, but because they gather thousands through dozens of smaller gatherings under some form of shared leadership.” Also, millennials and Gen Z’s seek tighter connections so the church’s future might also be in coffee shops or even home venues under a simple structure.   Still, some religious historians believe that house churches represent the next wave of evangelical worship, after the boom in mega-churches that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s. The trend was recently captured, in an article in Time magazine, which describes how “evangelicals are abandoning mega churches for mini churches, based in their own living rooms.”  

Personally, I feel we cannot talk about the church without reflecting on church history. When we consider the large empty church buildings (Cathedrals) all over Europe, the question remains, will the church love Jesus’ mission more than her model?

I believe the church will love the former more! 

George Barna found that 5 per cent of all believers in America are currently involved in house churches-and the trend is booming. (See my blog,  The Miracle of House Church). 

Although there are thousands upon thousands of healthy, vibrant churches throughout the world, new expressions of church are continually needed to accommodate believers who do not fit into the current church structures. Just as wine can be contained in both bottles and glasses, so God’s Church necessitates many sizes and shapes of containers. Jesus referred to this problem of “wineskins” in His day. 

He taught that new wine needs new wineskins because old, brittle wineskins will burst with the fermentation of new wine (Luke 5:37).

 

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God Bless you!

 

Prompted with reflections, celebration and concerns in the light of Christianity’s celebrated growth as cited in the Cape Commitment (CTC), more specifically in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions; the supernatural power of God’s love is evident. Still, it is essential to analyse Christianity’s steady decline in Europe and the Americas. Begging the question, why is Christianity losing its drawing power? How does God require one to respond? Smacked hard on one cheek by the firm first of the ever-growing challenges of religious pluralism and trodden down under the feet of relativism ––claiming that all truth is equal and there is no such thing as truth, respectively. I am asking how one as a leader can prepare the Church to circumvent these challenges? How urgent is the need for the Church to think “missionally” not merely denominationally? 

 

Victory in the South, Compromise in the North

 

As one (I) reflects upon its humble beginnings two millennia ago, in the region of Palestine with only a handful of convicted followers, Christianity’s growth is not short of a supernatural phenomenon. Two millennials later, it has spread so vast, in comparison, no single continent or nation can claim indisputably it is Christianity’s global centre. In contrast, Islam a religion projected to outgrow Christianity’s long reign mainly because of its fertility (natural birth) strategy. Christianity, by contrast, owes its growth through the supernatural –the New Birth through Jesus Christ (John 3:7). Christianity’s distinctive touch!

 

Still, following its expansion southeast of the globe, namely the African and Eastern regions as stated in the Cape Town Commitment (CTC, Wright, 2011, n.p), growth calls for celebration. Yet, considerable concern (to me) regarding the decline of Christianity, mainly in the north-western nations, is a disconcerting reality and worthy of urgent recognition in light of the Church’s Mission (Matt 28). According to Pew Research Centre, Christianity’s made up for 32% of the world’s population, compared to 35% a century ago (Pew Research Centre, on Religion & Public life in 2011). This is a challenging reality! Furthermore, if one appeals to the determination of the remarkable Lausanne Covenant (1974); (needly to mention, a remarkably comprehensive evangelical strategy,) written by one of its chief architects, John Stott (1921), with a scope too magnanimous to mention in this post, except for its commendable impulse and provoking call to the Church (me included) to work towards Christian unity and to make Jesus known to the world. Moreover, from Lausanne Covenant, the Cape Town Commitment (2011) pollinates. However, one (I) beg the question, why is Christianity losing “gained ground?”

 

The aim of this post is not argumentative but expository –highlighting the compromise in the North and identifying the most significant threat against the Christian worldview. Nevertheless, what is God’s remedy? Honestly, the answer fail me. Still, the colossal Mission and the words that keep echoing in the chamber of my heart “bring the revival back to Europe,” should be (I believe the LORD, says) interpreted in the urgent need to engage these nations in “robust apologetics” –one of the most vital missional agendas.

 

Tolerance the New Religion

 

The CTC is cited as “one of the most important Christian documents of our day” and justified reason. Subsequentially, like a beautiful tapestry, we (I’m) presented with a hassle to emphasise one single mandate over another. The nature of sound theology helps one define sound theology as the ability to speak the eternal “truth” into the temporal “situation” or culture. Certain theologians argue that theology must be reflective (orthopathos) –feeling the love between us, our neighbour and creation, but it must also be engaging (orthopraxi) –referring to the right action within our cultural

situation. “Spiritual Mapping” further guides us (me) to diagnose the spiritual typology, helping us (me) identify the cause for the hostility and regress in nations and regions.

 

Inadvertently one of the most provoking statements in the CTC entails bearing witness to the “Truth of Christ in a postmodern culture.” Perhaps one strategic way to regain lost ground and maintain new territory requires the Church (me) to seriously relook the sentiment of R.C. Sproul, who said, “Empty heads do not nourish burning hearts” (Prov 19:2). I am troubled by the reality of a Church in love with a God they do not really know, let alone able to defend in an apologetic sense. It is disconcerting, for instance, to accept that the focus in evangelical tradition is on mainly proclamation and not an explanation of the Gospel. Dr Francis Schaeffer helps us (me) understand the value of explanation by referring to apologetics as “pre-evangelism”, not evangelism. The former is necessary to engage a culture that does not believe in the Bible at all.

 

  If our postmodern, post-logic, and post-truth culture is the greatest threat to true liberty, justice and freedom, values cherished by the Christian worldview, then should the Church (me as a leader) not be equipping the saints and training its troops for Acts 17 styled evangelism?

 

Pluralism Faces Christ

 

Once again, one of the cardinal truths that need “defending” are outlined in the CTC statement that says, “Bearing witness to the truth of Christ in a pluralistic, globalised world.” It is profoundly encouraging (to me) that Christ’ exclusive truth claims are not unique. No single religion or worldview posits inclusivity. Therefore, defaming Christians as religious bigots or as narrow-minded is both discriminatory and logically self-defeating. In this aspect of truth, one (I) sense the LORD’s leading to defend the truth claims of Christ (John 8:38).

 

Christologically, the LORD’s uniqueness in Personage, Nature and Mission, concerning human beings and creation is a glorious truth and the very thrust of the Gospel, I am determined to “proclaim”.

 

Lastly, the “must live Truth” statement in the CTC document also inspires one (me) to think in an orthopraxi manner –Truth should not only be studied, but the truth should also be incarnate (God help me). The Biblical prescription by which the light can shine through the blindness in the minds of the lost and seeking, that they may see Jesus Christ as the image of the invisible God ( 2Cor 4:4).

  

Conclusion 

 

If sound theology is the ability to speak the eternal “truth” into the temporal “situation” or culture. The challenge I perceive is how theological reverent is our message in a Postmodern world that is hostile to the Biblical agenda? In the new spiritual landscape of our postmodern, post-truth, post-logic world, I sense the overwhelming burden to equip myself and the Church to think “apologetically.”

Picture Hannibal Smith with a smoking cigar in his mouth, wouldn’t it feel great to say “I love it when a plan comes together,” each time a project is successfully executed?

Someone once said, “If Plan A did not work, don’t worry, the alphabet has 25 more letters.” The truth is, you have tried all 25 and yet your plan remains somewhere stored within your mental ‘cloud’ remaining nothing but ‘wishful thinking’ –Frustrating isn’t it?
 If you want to move pass the ceiling of your current limitations, I’ll be honoured to help move you and your team up to the next level. As your leadership architect, my training will greatly benefit your organisation.  Click here MEDC4, I will show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step! 
  
Executives and business owners like you create plans all the time. Have you ever wondered why some of your grand projects or ideas never took off?
 
Some plans work, most don’t. The question is ‘Why?’
Why don’t most strategic plans drive significant growth or outcomes? Perhaps it’s because HR forgot to include some ‘magic potion’ in your package? Or there is some ‘secret system’ that most people don’t know about? Maybe, some people are just ‘wired’ to outshine the rest? The answer is No!
The difference between creating a bad, average or great plan is primarily related to one thing and one thing only, and it’s not some ‘secret process’ or ‘pixie dust.’
 
The difference between an optimal strategic plan and a less than optimal strategic plan is related to the thinking that went into creating it.  
 
John Maxwell once said, “I spent 80% of the time planning and only 20% of the time executing the plan.” In other words;    
 
The quality of your thinking invested in strategic planning decides the quality of the strategic plan itself.
  
 
One of the greatest challenges we face in life is how very few people use their minds to think. If you’re the only person on the team that’s adding creativity to break out of the mould of mediocrity and complacency, it’s a sign the rest are not doing their job.
Everyone cannot be thinking and saying the same thing, it’s a sign your team is not thinking, this results in limiting potential and breakthrough.
 
According to Gallups, we all are uniquely ‘wired’ with 34 raw strengths. Your ‘top five’ are your Signature Strengths.’ Individually or in combination, you can develop them and enjoy personal and career success. For instance, my top five signature strengths in rank order are: Relator, Achiever, Intellection, Maximiser and Belief. Knowing your natural strengths is vital to your career success. But notice, ‘Strategic’ is not in my top five.
  
Regardless of our unique strengths, all of us have one commodity in common, a brain. Which should be used for thinking. We are also able to harness our ability to think strategically; one way we do this is by reading books on how to think strategically.   
 
If you don’t know how to think strategically, how can you build anything profitable?
 
One of the keys to creating anything highly fruitful and profitable in business is to develop a suite of strategic plans that position you and your company at every level to be competitive in your marketplace.  So, how can you begin to think more strategically in order to produce a more optimal strategic plan for this coming year?
  

Well, here are three hints to get you started in the right direction.

I. Challenge The Status Quo Continually
 
If individuals didn’t challenge opinions in the past, we’d still be writing on papyruses, riding the horse and believing the earth is flat.
 
Some of the greatest ideas were conceived by creatively challenging the status quo.
 
As you look at your business, how are you and your team challenging: your market trends, your competitors’ strategies, your internal processes, your products, your services, your prospects and customers etc.?
 
I enjoy maintaining our small pool. It relaxes me. Occasionally the creepy gets stuck and focuses on cleaning only a particular section of the pool, while the rest of the pool’s base gathers dust. The reason for this is very fascinating. After repeating the same movement innumerable times, the creepy’s hose forms a ‘memory’. It moulds itself to a shape which prevents it from focusing on other areas.
 
The same thing is happening in organisations with leaders. Repeating the same tasks day after day, over and over again. This produces a ‘creativity lockdown’ when they don’t challenge how and why stuff gets done.
 
The more you get in the habit of creatively challenging the ‘current state of affairs’ the better you’ll be at strategic thinking.
 
And the better your thinking, the better your planning!
 
 
II. Think-Bigger-than-Big
 
You’ve heard of ‘big-picture-thinking’. I want to suggest another concept, ‘bigger-picture-thinking’. Few people think big, even less think bigger!
 
The altitude of your vision determines the aptitude of your strategy.
 
Two mistakes business owners and entrepreneurs should steer clear from this coming 2017 and beyond:
 
Firstly, don’t strategise until you ‘visionise’ (I recognise that’s not good English, but you get the point).  
 
The great temptation is to delve into strategy, without first defining and clarifying your vision. Strategy deals with – the how. Vision deals with – the what. The ‘what’ decides the ‘how.
 
  • Unless you pitch a compelling ‘what’ you will always come up with sub-optimal strategies. So cast a bigger-than-big vision!
 
Secondly, A non-compelling vision is the reason for your plateau. 
 
Many businesses hit a plateau or decline, or grow by two to three percent per annum, because of a non-compelling vision or a vision that is not well-defined (clarity enhances acceleration.)
 
  • Is the vision clear? Do your executives and middle managers ‘see what you see and say what you say?’ 
  • The altitude of your vision will always determine the aptitude of your strategy.
  • Not thinking bigger-than-bigger will negatively impact your thinking process. Effective strategists are always looking for big gains, “How can we grow this business by 30% or 50% or 100% or 500% or more?”
They aren’t looking for small, incremental gains (which is what most business owners and entrepreneurs are looking for).
 
In the movie Deck the Halls, the multi-talented actor Danny De Vito plays the role of Buddy Hall. He finds himself in somewhat competition with his neighbour, so he conjures up a plan to outshine him. He decides to put up a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decoration, so bright, that his house could be seen from outer space. That’s thinking-bigger-than-big!
 
Unless you’re thinking of a minimum of 5% over last year’s revenues, it is not a growth accelerator; don’t bother thinking.
 

III. Strategy is not Tactic
 
The number one mistake most business owners and entrepreneurs make when they’re working on their strategic plan is confusing tactics and strategy—they’re not the same thing.
 
Most devastatingly, 95% of employees do not understand their company’s strategy. (How are they supposed to execute a plan if they don’t understand it?) 
−Harvard Business School
 
Vision is (the what), strategy is (the how), but tactics are (the detailed how) – the ‘what’ of the ‘how’. Tactics are (the stepping stones) of the strategy and the coordinates of the vision. Tactics are about (how you plan to get there.)
 
The Tactical strategy is commonly known as the ‘Operation Plan’ which can be viewed as the shorter horizon of the strategy. It is a coordinated set of tasks for carrying out the goals outlined in a strategic plan. It is much more detailed than the strategic plan, delineating timeframes, roles of individual and board members.
 
 
In other words, if you want to think more strategically you have to ask the, ‘What question’. If you want to think tactically, you have to ask the, ‘How question’.
 
You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.
-Jim Rohn

 


 
Question: How will you look at strategic thinking differently today? Leave your comment below and share this post.  
 
If you want to move pass the ceiling of your current limitations, I’ll be honoured to help move you and your team up to the next level. As your leadership architect, my training will greatly benefit your organisation. Contact me here…
 
Organisational potential is either capped or uncapped by the capacity of your Leadership. (Most organisations don’t have a skills problem, a knowledge problem or an experience problem, they have a leadership problem).