As I read this book, I could not help but think of my own Christian walk and how it has evolved through the years. When I first came to Christ, I was a real legalist. Things had to be done a certain way or else face the consequence of hell. I did not give anybody any slack. I really was not interested in helping serve people. I just wanted to tell the truth of the gospel and not move much farther beyond that. That was until I had a unique experience happen to me in college.
When I was in college, I accepted Christ and got involved in the local Baptist Student Union (BSU). After I was there for a few months, I volunteered to lead a Bible study on campus. One day I was running late, so I grabbed my materials and ran up the hill to the building where the Bible study was being held. As I approached the top of the hill, a homeless man started toward me. When I saw him, I moved to the other side of the street. So he moved to the other side of the street. I switched sides a few time, but he always followed me. In my mind I thought, "I do not have time for this. I'm late. Maybe I can give him a few bucks and he will leave me alone. So as I approached him, I pulled a few dollars out and handed it to him. As he took the money, he grabbed my hand. He would not let it go. He said, "Before you go, I have a quick question to ask you." I thought, "OK, here comes this guy's sob story."
He asked me, "Do you know Christ?" My heart sank. He said, "I see college kids go by all the time, and I wonder if they know Jesus." At that moment, I felt 2 inches tall. Here I was, going to teach a Bible study about Christ and would have missed an opportunity to minister to someone else.
As we talked, he told me that it was hard to share with people because he did not have a Bible. I had some with me, so I gave him one. I walked away changed that day. As I read The Way to Heaven
, I really began to identify with the description Harper gave of this new type of believer. I really see how I have incorporated some of his ideas into my own ministry.
• Who are the younger evangelicals in my church?
• Who are the younger evangelical leaders within my community?
• How can the younger evangelicals minister to the postmodern mindset within our community?
• How do I train my leaders to be sensitive to this type of need in ministry?
I believe God is raising up a new breed of Christ followers who want nothing more than a mighty move of his Spirit. God is calling each of us to return to the purity of the early church. I believe people around us need to experience a face-to-face encounter with God, be united as a body in continual prayer, and engage their communities with a culturally relevant message and lifestyle. We must heed the call of the apostle who said, "I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is that too much to ask? Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world [not even the behavior of the religious world], but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do…" (Romans 12:1-2
I have realized that instead of leading people to say the prayer of accepting Christ, it is more about coming out of our upper rooms of prayer, empowered by God's Spirit to lead them to a face-to-face encounter with God and a spiritual formation process played out in the cycle of believing, behaving and belonging. This establishes a grid by which we measure our lives in relationship with Jesus. Rather than focusing on church attendance, donations and the number of programs and events, I see that my journey must focus on getting to know Jesus intimately for who He really is and becoming shaped and formed by the power of God's Spirit in very specific areas of my lives. In doing so, I will be better equipped to fulfill the ministry to which God has called me.