I sometimes wonder if we’ve lost ourselves.
American society is so bent on competition. We compete for jobs, for scholarships, for success, for position, for offices, for titles, for wins. An American history textbook I’ve used for some of my American history college courses referred to “American ingenity” as the reason for the vast technological and infrastructural successes in the late 1800s. It seemed that those particular authors couldn’t even explain why we excelled, as a nation, so quickly, even after a devastating Civil War. They decided that it was just because we are, well, Americans, and the money was there for the fastest and most powerful men.
And so, we’ve taken that idea of competition for success, that very ingrained aspect of our culture, and placed it squarely in the arena of faith. We’ve seen churches and ministries seemingly swell in attendance, and we look at them in awe of their resources and programs and quest for more and more. We’ve used the word “mega” for church, and to try and be like those very big organizations, we’ve filled church calendars with events and programs and stuff, and smiled at our own successes.
Yet, while we’ve done that, the attendance in the American church has decreased. All Protestant groups (including the mega ones) have suffered awful decreases of members in the past twenty years, as we’ve increased the amount of stuff we’ve offered.
We’ve excelled in the charm of an American program. We’ve failed in the call to make disciples.
And I need to go no futher with this. You can find all the research for this in a thousand places. (You can read the stats I’ve compiled here.)
This is, in part, one of the reasons I’m offering a challenge to read the Word of God. When we squarely place ourselves in this crazy, unbelievable story, we find something other than competition. We find grace. We find a freedom. Here’s why.
Competition is all about earning. Grace is all about receiving. Why do we still want more, when we can receive the more we could never earn? When we remove success from faith, we find a God still there, that supersedes anything we could ever ask or imagine. Or earn.
This Friday, I’m inviting you to join this amazing journey. It’s a ninety day breath of fresh air. It’s a competition-free gospel that Jesus offers. It frees us from earning and relying on our own ingenuity. It gives us a purpose bounded in grace, not bounded in talent.
And I’ll be blogging along the way. Get the schedule here, and start reading this Friday. God will change your life through this discipline. I believe it.