My next steps (part two)

Continuing from the last post, here’s another next step I’m taking after finishing up The Forgotten Ways.

  • Practices – The Western church is all about knowledge. If we KNOW enough, we’ll start DOING the right things, right? It hasn’t really worked, has it? I love how some churches we discussed have embraced practices instead of values.

    Most churches have similar written values. But are most people living them out? Let’s decide as a group how are values are fleshed out in practices – the things we do as individuals and as a church. Humans want to find meaning in what we do, so if we start with the practices, the knowledge will happen as we begin doing them.

    I love the set Small Boat Big Sea uses – BELLS.

    BLESSING: Who have you blessed this week through words or actions and what learning, encouragement or concerns were raised by it?EATING: With whom have you eaten this week and what learning, encouragement or concerns were raised by it?

    LISTENING: Have you heard or sensed any promptings from God this week?

    LEARNING: What passages of Scripture have encouraged you or what other resources have enriched your growth as a Christian this week?

    SENTNESS: In what ways have you sensed yourself carrying on the work of God in your daily life this week?

    I don’t think I’ll simply adopt these, but they may be a good place to start. It’s not a legalistic thing. It’s more of a way to see concretely the things God’s leading me to and how I can make sure I’m actually living them out.

    If Jesus is Lord, how do we – how do I – respond to him in a way that reflects that?

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My next steps (part two)

5 thoughts on “My next steps (part two)

  1. Interesting post, Jon. The BELLS acronyom brings up some interesting check-points for reflecting on the actions that I’m actually taking.

    Wouldn’t you say, though, that the heart of the problem might be that some people in the Western church don’t even reflect or know what they value…or what the doctrine/theology of their church is that would even impact their actions? I’ve often thought that many Western church bodies are passive about their values/theology…

  2. It’s true that people don’t often think about what they value – but I’d say most churches could easily state a mission statement or values. Most individual Christians could probably list a lot of the important things Christians should know and value. I think the action part is where you’re “spot on” ;), which brings us back to practices. When we’re passive about our values or theology, it’s that we aren’t living it out.

    I’m a fan of the productivity book “Getting Things Done.” One of the most powerful things about its system is that it forces you to take your “to do” list and create “next actions” from them. Christians could learn from that. Practices help us take our values (or God’s commands) and put them to action. And action is where learning really takes place. In fact, the Hebrew idea of learning involved not only the mind, but the whole body.

    I’ve heard people say Western Christians are “educated beyond our level of obedience.” I’d have to agree.

    So, we’re probably saying the same thing, from different angles. Maybe?

  3. Stephen says:

    “The Western church is all about knowledge. If we KNOW enough, we’ll start DOING the right things, right? It hasn’t really worked, has it?”

    Maybe it hasn’t it a broad sense. But there are many examples contrary to the rule where it has happened. And I think you’ll find that in these examples people DID because they KNEW. Its impossible to DO without some form of KNOWING. We should be saying, as James, knowing WITHOUT doing is useless. That I think is what the western church is guilty of. I completely sympathize with you sentiments but I think its a bit unfair to suggest that becasue the western church were rubbish at it therefore it doesn’t work – because where it has worked it worked because people KNEW what they had to DO.

    But I amen your efforts to make sure that our faith is a robust faith that doesn’t just deal with the intellect. Thanks for the post.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen. I’d actually agree. I think theology is incredibly important. That’s the main reason I’m in seminary. I just also appreciate how Paul in Romans talked about theology and then practice. It was a both/and. In general, I think we tend to get caught on the knowledge thing. It’s easier to study in the safety of the church than to go into the messiness of “real life.” At least, that’s the temptation I’ve seen in my life and the lives of people around me.

    I guess I just believe that robust faith comes when we do a little more “on the job” training and rely a little less on one more lesson about the book of Leviticus to change our lives. Disciplemaking is an absolutely essential part of our faith – to be made into disciples and to be a part of what God’s doing in making others his disciples. But that, too, is really best done in the context of life, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing. I appreciate a little “push back.” It helps to clarify things. 🙂

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