In this episode of the podcast. Bill Giovannetti continues sharing new book, CHAOS:As Goes the Church, So Goes the World.
Below you have a short snippet of each chapter…
Chapter 6 – The Pharisees are Back
Nobody riled up Jesus like legalists. But the problem then, as it is today, is that legalists don’t know they’re legalists. And even when Jesus told them so, they had the temerity to argue back.
It’s not that we are legalists, they argued. It’s that you, Jesus, are a bottom-feeding antinomian.
There never was a legalist that ‘fessed up without a major whack upside the head.
Witness Paul on the road to Damascus. Or Peter after the vision of the sheets.
The human heart is hopelessly addicted to impressing God in its own strength. But this is impossible. Jesus said so: “With humans it is impossible” (Mark 10:27).
I won’t go into the whole case for grace, as I have written a trilogy of books on this most glorious theme. It will be more helpful to explore some subtle ways the evangelical church has constituted itself around legalism, and doesn’t even know it.
What Shall We Teach the Kids?
As a novice pastor, I had the enormous benefit of rubbing shoulders with some giants of the faith. Lance B. Latham was the revered founder of Awana (a worldwide Bible memory club for kids) and Camp Awana. By the time I joined the staff of the church he founded, he was retired. Doc, as we called him, looked to be about 300 years old. But there was strength in his handshake and a sparkle in his crystal-blue eyes. He still kept office hours at the church. He was a living legend and a hero to countless thousands of kids who grew up through Awana.
As the leader of Awana clubs in the church he founded, I had the incredible privilege of benefiting from Doc’s mentorship. When I asked him once what to teach the children in our clubs, he didn’t hesitate. “Teach them their riches in Christ,” he said.
That was decades ago, and I have never budged from this simple wisdom.
I have spent the bulk of my ministry life, however, lamenting the scarcity of this kind of thinking.
I would argue, in Christian love, that most children’s curriculum constitutes institutionalized legalism. What else can it be when we offer endless lessons about sharing and character? What else is it when we continually shove behavioral lessons down vulnerable kids’ throats, like a robin shoving worm-bits down its hatchlings’ gullets? Be nice. Obey. Share. Tell the truth. Sit still.
What are we, dog trainers?
We possess an invincible God, an incomparable gospel, and an invaluable mission. We possess riches to last a lifetime — enough positive affirmations to establish a young soul on a theological rock that will support their psychological health forever.
Let’s teach that.
Let’s lay out a feast of who God is. Let’s feed them who Christ is, and what he has done. Let’s walk them through a bloody Old Testament sacrifice, and show them how each minute detail points to Christ. Let’s wear a priest’s ephod, and show how each gem sparkles with the radiance of who God has designed them to be. Let’s build a giant fish and have it swallow a prophet who resents grace.
Let’s teach them theology.
Let’s serve up the whole counsel of God.
Let’s teach them the wonders of a grace so deep the devil can’t uproot it.
Chapter 8 – The “Discipleship” Captivity of the Church
First it was “evangelism” and “follow up.” Then the two were melded into discipleship. We’ve been a bunch of legalists ever since.
Fact: the word discipleship never occurs in the Bible. We have disciples as a noun, and making disciples as a verb, but never discipleship as a title for a theological category or process.
Fact: neither the word disciple nor any of its cognates ever occurs in the epistles.
Fact: the underlying Greek word, mathetes (math-AY-tace), means a learner or pupil in the academy. It emphasizes the instructional aspect of spiritual growth.
Discipleship has come to mean so many things, it now means nothing, except, perhaps, for the nebulous machinery for pumping out good, self-sacrificing “Christ-followers.” The same could probably be said for a dozen other words in the Christian vocabulary, but this one has a particularly strong influence. It has usurped the role as the main thing the church does. In so doing, it has toppled salvation and enthroned an undefined sanctification as the ruling power.
I would argue that the emphasis on discipleship has murdered evangelism. Before this emphasis, churches trained their people in evangelism. We all knew the Romans Road. Most of us went through Evangelism Explosion. We carried around the Four Spiritual Laws and handed out tracts.
Regardless of the fruit, at least our hearts were in the right place.
Now, all of that is dead.
Evangelists, like the late Billy Graham, and Luis Palau, now carry the months-long burden of building “discipleship” programs in local churches before they can come and preach the gospel.
No wonder the age of the evangelist, at least in America, has waned. We’re piling discipleship on the evangelist’s shoulders, and the result has been the near extinction of the evangelist as a species.
At least the devil is happy.
To read the rest of Chaos, please pick up the book!
[Please click here to be notified when the book is released.]
You might have caught some changes in file names, podcasts episode names and titles, because I have basically changed the numbering system to make the whole structure of the book more clear, it’s a work in progress. I’m also changing chapter titles…
With this episode Bill continues giving away most of this book, as he shares it with you on the podcast. The message is urgent. The message is timely. If it strikes a chord with you, please share it with your friends. I appreciate your prayers.
There has never been a more important moment in the life of the modern church. It is time for us to return to our roots and seek God as never before.
Here’s the Table of Contents (subject to change)
CHAOS: AS GOES THE CHURCH SO GOES THE WORLD
Part One: Disturbing Trends in Today’s Church
1. The Giants Have Perished
2. Cheap Epistemology
3. The Song that Never Ends
4. For the Love of All That’s Holy
5. Whatever Happened to Hell?
6. Modern Day Pharisees
7. Kingdom Mania
8. The Discipleship Captivity of the Church
9. The Leadership Captivity of the Church
10. The Brokenness of “Woken-ness”
11. How the Church Murdered Grace
Part Two: The Revival We Need
12. Grow Big / Reformation pt 1
13. Grow Big / Reformation pt 2
14. Stand Tall / Some Theology Concerning Revival
15. Stand Tall / Some History Concerning Revival
16. Proclaim Christ
Afterword: What’s an Evangelical?
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Please click here to be notified when the book is released.