One thing that concerns me is what I call the “minimalist” approach in regard to the way we live our Christian lives. Allow me to begin at home, for that is where it all begins and from there it filters through to other areas in our Christian living, including the church.
The “minimalist approach” to family and personal devotions is a disturbing trend and detrimental to their families spiritual development. Sometimes I have dared to ask busy parents whether they read the Bible and pray together. Occasionally the answer is affirmative (praise God) and at other times their answers leave a lot to be desired.
Now it’s not my intention that we start pointing fingers at each other, for I know we can all do better, yours truly included. I also understand that life is busy. Mums and dads have work commitments and meetings to attend and not least, the ‘news’ is on at six. Our children have school, exams, homework and piano lessons or some other training session to attend. As a result, a ‘minimalist approach’ takes over personal and family devotional time. I am sure we have heard or perhaps even said it ourselves on occasions, “Let’s just quickly read and pray so that we can…”
Sadly, there is often a flow-on effect to our churches at two levels. One level is Christian education in the doctrinal truths of Scripture. On the one hand, we can be pleased and encouraged that many of our churches still have a beginner’s class, teach the Catechism and have profession of faith classes and also weekly or fortnightly Bible studies.
Yet, on the other hand I wonder whether a ‘minimalist approach’ is being taken when it comes to church education and the resulting membership. When one looks at the statistics of people who have left the wider church, one must ask whether they were indeed genuine professing Christians. Perhaps the slogan, “Give me Christ and not doctrine” has become part of the ‘minimalist’ approach. With the increased emphasis on Church growth programs and Church plants (neither necessarily bad), people are occasionally embraced as Christians who have little or no understanding about the Christian faith.
So instead of taking a ‘minimalist’ approach, let us take a ‘maximalist’ approach and be certain that new Christians possess the faith they are about to profess. A ‘minimalist’ approach rather than a ‘maximalist’ approach in this area of our Christian faith commitment does very little, if anything, for the Church at large. More than that, it is extremely unloving for those wishing to join a Christian fellowship for it may give them a wrong sense of security when there is none.
A second flow-on effect with which our churches need to come to grips with is worship. Recently we attended a Classis ministers and wives get together and were surprised to hear that many churches just have one worship service on the Lord’s Day. Initially some of these churches exchanged the evening worship service for what they called a ‘prayer and praise’ evening, but that has also fallen by the way for some.
Now we acknowledge that frailty and sickness prevents some from attending a second service. Nor do we wish to become legalistic, for we know we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, what can be good about spending only half the time in worship with God’s people? Why would we not want to just corporately praise our God and adore and honour Him for all His provision, not least the wonderful salvation He has provided in is Son?
Well surprisingly, social media (Facebook in particular) has given us some answers. From the postings we see, many Christians are just too busy for all sorts of reasons to give the worship of God a ‘second’ time slot on the Lord’s Day. And so we are left wondering. Have we become guilty of taking an increasingly ‘minimalist’ approach to all the above? Perhaps there is a need for genuine repentance so that we can take steps not to remain ‘minimalists,’ but with the Spirit’s help, become ‘maximalists’ to the praise and glory of our Saviour God. JZ.
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.