Monday, October 23, 2006


I am convinced that the gap holding back most believers is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It’s the gap between what they know and what they’re living. The gap between knowing and doing is significantly bigger than the gap between ignorance and knowledge. Many Christians are trafficking in unlived truth. They are educated beyond their obedience.

If this is true, there are implications for us as leaders.

1. Teach Practice-ally

Practical teaching is teaching that results in action, or practice. Talk about where the rubber meets the road. Use illustrations of people actually living out their faith. Call for changes in behavior, not just belief.

2. Get People in the Game

Many view the pastor as the performer, God as the director, and themselves as the audience. Change that around where the people are the performers, the pastor is the director and God is the audience. Get folks out of the bleachers and out onto the field. Ask folks to either join a small group or a ministry team where they can live out their faith. Ask folks to engage in some form of active ministry, either in the church, or, preferably, outside of it.

Christianity is not a head trip, though some want it to be. Why do some clamor for "deeper" teaching (not deeper in practice, mind you, but in information)? It may be because facts give us a sense of power and control. “Knowing more” can serve as an illegitimate substitute for “walking by faith,” where we have to give up power and control. It may also be because talking about doing it, and thinking about doing it, is way easier than actually doing it.

Even first-century Christianity was challenged with the gap between knowing and doing. James challenged his audience, "Faith without works is dead." A dead faith is a faith that just lays there. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't go anywhere. When it's time to "get up and go" a dead faith doesn't send a charge.

At CTK we have committed ourselves to being "an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out...." We've said we are going to be something, and that we are going to do something. We need to be held accountable to both sides of the equation.

How do I respond when someone tells me, “The teaching at CTK needs to be deeper”? Graciously, I hope. Then, I’ve been known to take several different tacks in response:

(1) I quote the mission statement, “Our mission is to create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.” The best defense is a good offense. To me our mission is balanced between knowing and doing. Admittedly it is a challenging mission statement. But our mission does not allow us the freedom of just cramming our heads with more and more information. What we know must be lived and shared.

(2) I ask them if they are involved in a small group or ministry team. Often I’ve found the answer is “No.” If so, I challenge them to take what they know and find a place where they can share it with others. God tends to take us deeper when there is an outlet for that depth. I say, “If God can get it through us, God can get it to us.”

(3) I quote what Jesus said in Mark 12:20, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” I tell them that spiritual formation is holistic, involving thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors, and that God wants all of these redeemed. I tell them, “I am preaching so that people will know what Jesus knows, feel what Jesus feels, believe what Jesus believes and do what Jesus did.”

(4) I encourage them with the unlimited opportunities that any of us have to go deeper, if that is our desire. There are books, videos, Christian television, Christian radio, e-learning, distance education, Christian colleges, etc. If someone truly wants greater depth of insight, they are living at a great time in history. This is the information age. There is absolutely nothing that could hold them back from finding out everything they would like to know about any conceivable subject.

(5) I tell them that we are an outreach church, and we have to be faithful to our calling. Over the years CTK has proved to be a place where thousands of people can grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is not an insignificant story (or as one of our pastors says, “The jury is not out on whether or not CTK is making an impact.”). We are not a Bible Institute, Bible College, or Seminary, though we appreciate what Bible schools add to the kingdom. We are a church. Our calling is to be an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people. We need to become more of who we already are.

When it comes to practice, it is important for us who are leaders to model the way - to “practice what we preach.” If you emphasize small groups, you yourself need to be in a small group. If you teach tithing, you also need to tithe. Dallas Willard once said, “A great danger is to invite others to live a life that we are unwilling to live.” Do not succumb to this danger.

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