Five Fundamentals for an Evangelical Future

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Jim's picture

  1. A clear understanding of the gospel. Too many have assumed it, but we need to teach it. The gospel is not you do, it’s Jesus did. People don’t need to be taught to turn over a new leaf—they need to receive and live out a new life. That new life is from Jesus’ death on the cross, for our sin and in our place. Don’t build a message that would still be true if Jesus had not died on the cross, for our sin, and in our place.

  2. A stronger focus on discipleship. God shapes congregations through the shaping of individual members’ lives. But this doesn’t just happen by accident or as a by-product—God grows us as we are in a position to receive that growth. This can only happen through intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members. In our Transformational Discipleship project, the largest statistical study of its kind, we found that discipleship was both lacking and simple—we just needed to remind people to live out who God has made us in Christ.

  3. A greater passion for mission. We need to stand up against the clergification in the modern-day church—the tendency to look at those who are professional ministers and say that they are the ones who are called to the mission, while the people in the pews are merely consumers of religious goods and services. We need to see all of God’s people engaged in God’s mission, from their respective neighborhoods all the way to the nations. We stand at a key moment, and part of the answer is to engage more of God’s people in mission.

  4. Evangelism in the age of the Nones. We are now increasingly facing what I have called a post-seeker context. This does not mean that seekers no longer exist. The Spirit is always at work in the hearts of people. But churches that once focused their energies and efforts toward targeting seekers are finding it more difficult to appeal to a constituency with little to no religious memory. Churches will have to find new ways to lead their people to reach out to their neighbors—not just attractional evangelism, but incarnational evangelism as well—being, doing, and telling good news where we live and work.

  5. New thinking in developing best practices. God often uses tools for his ends—think of bus ministry in the 70s or radio ministry in the 50s. That’s still true today. As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and utilize tools wisely—like multisite churches, viral church planting.

Darrell Post's picture

I supposed there is some irony here...an evangelical article calling for fundamentals.

Ron Bean's picture

It's been my experience that the conservative evangelicals are sometimes more fundamentally balanced than some fundamentalists.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

...is that in an age when evangelicals abandon the fundamentals they used to hold, any call to the basics of the Gospel is welcome.  I only wish that the author had mentioned some of those fundamentals specifically to reduce the wiggle room in defining the Gospel.

Which is, I think, at the heart of what Darrell was getting at, and really at the heart of Ron's comment that conservative evangelicals often have a better grasp on the real fundamentals than do we.  I'm under the impression that a lot of evangelicals walked away from Fundamental churches because of cultural issues--they were tired of being told not to do this, that, and the other thing in areas where the Scripture allows.  However, as The Coming Evangelical Crisis made clear in 1997, there was a genuine tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater, theologically speaking.

Again, welcome, but I'd love to see more specificity. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

I recall an old "fighting fundamentalist" who used to boast that he and his ilk were defined by what they were against. His favorite illustration was "even if it's buttermilk".

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

I recall an old "fighting fundamentalist" who used to boast that he and his ilk were defined by what they were against. His favorite illustration was "even if it's buttermilk".

Just sayin', and....sigh.  Sad to say, I can imagine some people I've known saying this.  It brings back Pastor MacLachlan's quip from Recovering Authentic Fundamentalism about fundamentalism being a lot of fun, a lot of duh, but not much mental about it.  Just irritates me when people do stuff like that to prove it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.