Still Christian leaders somehow cannot draw the connection from the declining moral and ethical standards in the Christian community to a church that has failed to produce Christian character.
Wheaton, IL (PRWEB) March 07, 2012
Donald Ratcliff, 60, of Carol Stream, IL, a professor of Christian education at Wheaton College, was recently charged with two counts of aggravated child pornography for downloading images of underage children from pornographic websites onto his home computer, according to a March 1st report by CBS News, Chicago. Bail was set at $750,000. (Christian Broadcasting Network, March 4, 2012, staff reporter)
The DuPage County Internet Crimes Unit detected a pattern of downloads of images of underraged children from pornographic sites to Mr. Ratcliffe's home computer. The author of The Casual Christian, a graduate of Wheaton College, points to this as another example of how Christian institutions have failed to equip believers for the challenges of living in an increasingly pagan culture.
Olson says, "In recent years it has become virtually impossible to distinguish Christian lifestyles from those of the general public. Mr. Ratcliffe is one of a growing number of Christians who have no idea what normative Christian behavior is from a historical perspective."
In his book, Ten Reasons We Fail in Evangelism, Jerry Harmon says:
"• Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
- Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
- Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
- Seventy-one percent give nothing toward the financing of the Great Commission.
- Sixty-three percent of church leadership, including deacons and pastors, have not led a single stranger to Jesus in the last two years.
- Forty-nine percent of Christian leaders spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
- Nine percent of leaders have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize."
According to a study by the Barna Group entitled, “Surprisingly Few Adults Outside of Christianity Have Positive Views of Christians,” evangelicals rated tenth out of eleven groups on positive impression, beating out only prostitutes. Less than half the respondents had a favorable impression of ministers and less than a third gave born again Christians a thumbs-up.
"Still Christian leaders somehow cannot draw the connection from the declining moral and ethical standards in the Christian community to a church that has failed to produce Christian character," says Olson.
He goes on, "Most church leaders hold to the notion that spiritual growth is the goal of Christian ministry. On the other hand, the Bible says that the goal of ministry is development of Christian character."
Second Peter 1: 5-7 lays out Christian character development in a progression:
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love” (2 Pet 1:5-7).
One could diagram Christian growth this way:
From Faith to Excellence to Knowledge to Self Control to Perseverance to Godliness to Brotherly Affection to Unselfish Love.
Each quality builds on the one before it until the ultimate goal is reached which is unselfish love. In a sense one could say that the selfishness is being wrung out of human nature little by little throughout the process until it is completely removed in the final step - a step which no one ever completely attains.
This same process is embodied in some fifty 'one anothers' of scripture. They shape up this way in order of occurrence:
Humble, Submit, Service, Honor, Harmony, Agree (8),
Mercy, Compassion, Forgive, Forbear, Patience (8),
Teach, Admonish, Worship, Meet (4),
Once again love is ranked highest on the scale of importance, although most modern church leaders would place teaching and worship at the top of the list.
"It is important to note," says Olson, "that the biggest difference between spiritual growth and character development is that one is tangible and the other is not. When spiritual growth becomes the object of ministry, outcomes are nebulous. One cannot judge another's prayer life or his devotion to God, so growth is not quantifiable. But it is possible to measure character development by the way the believer interacts with others. The Apostle Paul provided such an evaluation at the beginning of every letter he wrote to the churches.
"Pastors fail to see the connection between the obvious lack of Christian qualities in the church and the effectiveness of their ministries, precisely because they have abandoned character development for spiritual growth. To make matters worse, they reject all scrutiny of their methods as church bashing or spiritual insubordination. Until now they have been exempt from the professional standards enforced upon secular institutions. Recently a new element of accountability has been added by special police task forces that monitor downloads of images from pornographic websites and trace them to the personal computers of unsuspecting targets."