Why have young adults gone missing from our churches? Some leaders shot us all in the foot in recent decades. Claiming that America is still a Christian nation, they insist that Judeo-Christian sexual ethics apply to all, even those half who are no longer practicing Christians. Meanwhile, the youngest generation sees homosexual lifestyles as a civil right and view Christian churches as hopelessly out of date. For Christians who recognize biblical authority that traditional ethic does reflect God-pleasing behavior.
Six Perspectives on the Spirit
To understand the Spirit, we need to expand our ways of understanding and approaching his role in church life. Here are six approaches or perspectives for a deeper understanding of the Spirit today.
- Look to the Spirit for Spiritual Energy
- The Crumbling Sacred Canopy
- Planting Churches the New Way
- Re-Discover the Forgotten Gospel
- The Controversial Role of Spiritual Experiences in Church Life
- Churches, Too, Now Have to Live in Hard America
Motivated by the Spirit
Luke uses phrases like “moved by the Spirit” and “filled with the Spirit” to describe unusual motivation among God’s people. Those are described by Paul as love, joy and peace and fruit of the Spirit. Rather than virtues to strive for, they are better interpreted as life-enhancing and God-pleasing motivations.
Recognizing the Spirit
The Bible tells us how mightily the Spirit moved that time. Our confessions of faith declare he still moves today. But how do you know when somebody is moved by the Spirit and not just selfish ambition?
Discipled by the Spirit
Discipleship is a key concept for current Protestants. But in my experience discipleship opportunities do not draw much attention. That’s because it is a “should” action, usually appealing to guilt. The Spirit grows disciples by shaping their motivations to experience more of what God offers and thus become closer to him.
- Fine-Tune Your Congregation’s Church Culture
- Why Do Some Churches Grow While Others Decline?
- Recognizing When It Is the Holy Spirit
Waiting on the Spirit
By God’s grace the Spirit changes us. How do we get more of the Spirit’s gifts? The answer is to put yourself in the Spirit’s workplace—the fellowship of believers gathered around God’s word. Some practices are basic. We can do others that stretch our trust and help us learn self-denial.
Culturally Shaped Experiences of the Spirit
The social cultures that shape how we communicate and understand ourselves change over time, especially in America now. To be effective, church cultures over the centuries have changed to be more effective. This involves seeing beyond our traditions to remain open to the Spirit’s movement.
- Growing Into a Free, Cheerful, Glad and Loving Heart
- How Spiritual Temperaments Influence Church Life
- Waiting on the Spirit
Organizing the Spirit’s Fellowships
Jesus taught that the Spirit is not predictable. Yet life together in the fellowship of the Spirit does need structure. The challenge is to adapt institutional structures that remain open to the fresh movement of the Spirit. Many churches made poor organizational decisions in the 20th century that lost focus on the Spirit’s energy. We need to get back to the basics of Spiritual energy.