Recently I found myself enjoying an interesting conversation with my son Jay. Jay lives in Atlanta and attends one of the largest Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations in the country, Peachtree Presbyterian Church. The church offers at least 5 worship services each weekend, and Jay particularly enjoys the family service in the upstairs assembly room of the church's coffee shop.
Our discussion, however, focused on whether or not I had ever read Josh McDowell's book, More than a Carpenter. I told him I was familiar with it and had read portions of it in seminary, but hadn't looked at it in many years. Jay then dropped the bombshell: “Well I just finished it Dad and it's really good. I'm now reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, but McDowell's book seems to have been a little easier to understand and something a person my age will latch on to quicker. One of the Associate Pastors at church recommended it to me and I'm really glad he did."
Please understand Jay is a "P.K." ("Preacher's Kid") and he and his sister rarely missed any church activity as children and youth. That being said, he also received one of his lowest grades in college at Wake Forest in the only New Testament Religion class he took, which is probably more a commentary on my preaching and teaching during his first 18 years of life than his academic skills! Additionally, Jay had absolutely no idea I was leading a book discussion group right now on Wednesday evenings focusing on C.S. Lewis' classic masterpiece of Christian apologetics (a defense of The Faith), Mere Christianity. And it's not too late for "you" to join us!
Yet my take away from our brief conversation by phone this past Monday evening is how it seems we in The Church (especially preachers like me!) have slowly and unintentionally become lazy in teaching and communicating and stressing the absolute basics of Christian Faith. We have innocently "fallen asleep" over the last 20 or 30 years and left it up to the church as an established "institution" through programs (Sunday School, Weekday Schools, Youth Groups, confirmation classes) to communicate over a child and young person's lifetime what should be the center and foundation stone of how to view and understand him or her self in relationship to others, and especially to God.
Given the mass of confusion we now see and experience in our culture today and an American society increasingly hostile to "all" religious faith, my discussion with Jay was truly a wake-up call. I am very thankful he has remained connected to the church and is a part of a faith community willing to guide and help him address the most basic, yet also the most important questions every individual asks just about every day: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? What is my ultimate destiny? We need to keep trying to do the same thing here in Belmont and with even more intentionality and purpose.
As a result of our conversation I find myself pulled to make answering these questions more and more a part of my preaching and ministry. I welcome your thoughts and comments and help. And whispering in the back of my head while simultaneously welling up from my heart are those powerful words of Jesus:"“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
God's Grace and Peace to you!