Friday, June 22, 2007

What is ACEDIA?

Acedia is a culture of apathy and boredom. In William Bennett’s book “The Book of Virtues” it makes reference to America currently experiencing a culture of boredom and apathy. We live in a time of “so what” and “whatever”. Sad to say, the same culture has taken root into the church.

I have preached in 27 different churches in Central and Western Minnesota over the last 8 years, and the best of our knowledge, only 3 of those churches are holding steady or growing. The other 24 have lost significant numbers of people. The young people are gone or leaving and I don’t blame them. Why?

Our young people are bored to death. In a culture that adores “extreme” behavior—bungee jumping, stupid and dangerous stunts, sky-diving and “extreme” immoral behavior, excessive drinking, and “girls gone wild”, we the church, sit transfixed while a generation flees the church. Young people do not want to be entertained. They want to be challenged to live out their faith; faith and actions, faith and deeds. Live on the edge, do good not talk about it. Sad to say, I believe we slumber while a generation slips into hell.

We say one thing and do another. Oh, we sing about, preach about, “marching into hell for a heavenly cause” but in reality we don’t move. We believe being moral and good is the sole purpose and extent of our faith. That’s good but we are to HATE EVIL AND CLING TO WHAT IS GOOD. (Romans 12:9-11). We are to be men and women who “live out” their faith not just go through the motions. Titus 2:12-14: "It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

We are sitting; glad God has chosen us, acting moral and good while the world around us goes to hell. We are to hate evil and cling to what is good. Let’s do it.

In Matthew 28, Jesus said to us, “GO”. We say “come.” They (the world) are not coming; as a matter of fact, our pews are emptying out at a rate that alarms me yet I find few, if any people concerned (pastors and church leaders included).

I have spoken about his topic on three different occasions. I feel it has been met with indifference by the older people but with appreciation by the younger people (younger people is people under 35). If our experiences in Western and Central Minnesota are any indication of the true spiritual state of our churches, we are in deep trouble. I can’t soften it in anyway. I am tired of our excuses for our deadness. In Matthew 24:12 it says: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." I believe most have grown cold.

“You’re just a complainer, Jerry,” they say. May I suggest some action?

Each and every one of us should give one hour a week direct ministry in our community. If we do that and we have 200 people in church, effectively we live out 800 hours of direct ministry in our communities in one month. This would transform our rural towns. For the believer, we would be stretched, we’d be scared, we will be pushed into areas of own communities where we’ve never been before. We will find talents we never knew we had. It will be exciting not boring. Living out our faith is exciting and challenging. The community will benefit. How? It will see the love of Christ demonstrated to them. When we live out our faith developing relationships outside the church, this makes easy our invitation to know Christ. It flows naturally, it’s not contrived and, all this would not require one committee meeting.

What do we do? Help people! We all like to help. Pray for eyes to see needs and act. I know what you’re saying, “I’m so busy.” Yes we are. Let’s take a look at our time:

168 hours in one week:
- 24 hours for all day Sunday off
- 48 hours for 8 hours of sleep for 6 days
- 12 hours for family time of 2 hours/day x 6 days
- 52 hours work & commute
32 hours remaining

So, if you perform 1 hour per week of direct ministry that would be 1/32nd of our life. Is this too much to ask?

Open our eyes—use us to your glory. Amen. Come quickly Lord Jesus, come.

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