You might need some new glasses.
NOVEMBER 15, 2023
You might need some new glasses. I’ll tell you why, on Key Life.
If you’re sick of guilt and manipulation, and if you’re looking for an honest and thoughtful presentation of Biblical truth, you’ve come to the right place. This is Key Life, with the founder of Key Life Network, Steve Brown. Keep listening for teaching that will make you free.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the different subjects in the Book of Proverbs, which frankly is the only way that you can teach the Book of Proverbs. If you were listening yesterday, it was kind of dark when we ended it because we looked at Proverbs 1:28 through 33. And we talked about how the writer of the Book of Proverbs sometimes says it’s too late. You’ve said no to God so much, that you can’t hear God anymore. You have turned away and gone your own way so often, that you can’t find the way back home. You have decided on your way and God says often, have it your way. And sometimes it’s too late. Okay, let’s move on. I could talk more about that, but I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I want you to see in Proverbs 2:10 through 12, that wisdom is kind of a way of seeing the world. Look at Proverbs 2:10 through 12.
When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul; discretion will preserve you, understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, and from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.
In other words, the writer of the Proverbs says, that you have new glasses. We looked at I Corinthians 2:14 through 16 a few broadcasts ago, but let me read it to you again.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, and yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
That’s what the writer of the Book of Proverbs is talking about. He’s talking about the new glasses that have been given to believers so that we are wise and we are street-smart. For years I used those reading glasses, until it became quite obvious that they weren’t doing the trick and that I needed to get glasses, real glasses, and so I finally went down to an optometrist, tested my eyes, and I got new glasses. And when I was driving home after I’d gotten the new glasses, I looked in the rearview mirror and almost had a coronary you know why? Because I could see clearly the cars that were so closely to me, I had to take off my glasses in order to get home without the fear, because I was seeing things for the first time. That’s what happened when a person becomes a Christian. I can remember the times when I loved to go to Christian bookstores and stir up an argument on the inconsistencies of Scripture. And then Jesus came. He came into my life and I looked at those inconsistencies. And I got it. They weren’t inconsistent anymore. I could see the pattern of God’s word and how that worked out. And it was a total supernatural act in my life. Wisdom is like that. Given a new pair of glasses and you begin to understand the way the world is. One of the things that I did when I was a pastor is that I learned to respect the congregation. And you say, well, what do you mean by that? Well, I learned to listen to them. Now, I’ve got a deep voice and I talk good. And frankly, when I was a pastor, I was a really good leader. You know how you can tell if you’re a good leader? If people follow you. My dear friend, Pat, who was the mission pastor at a church I served. We were talking about a particular guy who wanted to be a leader, but nobody listened to him about anything. And he said, a shepherd who has no sheep is not a shepherd. That’s true. So, I probably could have done whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted to do it. But I learned that would be stupid. And as Billy Sunday says, a sinner can repent, but stupid is forever. And why is that? Because of Proverbs 2:10 through 12. Because God’s spirit operates in the people of God. And I Corinthians 2:14 through 15 is the explanation. God’s people see, and they understand, and I learn to listen to them. You know something? When I wanted to go in a particular direction, had prayed about it and thought it was God’s will, and brought it to the elders, and they said, Steve, I’m uncomfortable with this. Steve, I’ll follow you, you know I’ll follow you wherever you go. But I’ve prayed about it and I’m not sure this is what we ought to do. When they said that, I listened and I changed. Why is that? Because of Proverbs 2:10 through 12, because of the new glasses, because of the spirit of God that not only resides in the people of God, but in the church of God. That’s why, when you write letters, I listen. And you think about that. Amen.
Proverbs is a way of seeing the world. Thank you Steve. What a beautiful meditation on Proverbs 2:10 through 12. We’ll continue from here tomorrow, and I sure hope you will join us for that. Well, there’s an odd word you may have heard in the last few years, dechurching, fancy word for folks who have left the church for various reasons. In all, there are some 40 million people in this situation. But there’s good news, and that’s exactly what we discussed with authors Jim Davis and Michael Graham on Steve Brown Etc. Take a listen, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free gift.
Jim Davis: Well, you know, we’re all in Orlando here, and it really started anecdotally. We began to realize that the vast majority of the people who we interacted with, who don’t go to church, used to go to church. And even the story of Orlando is an interesting one because you were here in the 90s and early 2000s when it felt like it was becoming a sort of Christian Mecca, with Reformed Theological Seminary coming down here, and Campus Crusade, and you know, First Pres was the second largest mainline church in the world, and the President of the Southern Baptist Convention was here, and even Benny Hinn was down here doing his thing. And you fast forward, according to Barna research in 2017, Orlando has the same percentage of evangelicals as New York City and Seattle. Only Orlando feels culturally very different because a lot of the people who don’t go to church here used to and still carry with them those kind of values. So, we really realized this is the context in which we do ministry. And it set us down this path to learn more, but there really wasn’t much to learn. There hadn’t been really any great research done. So, we engaged Doctors Ryan Burge and Paul Jupe, sociologists and Christians, to do what became the most comprehensive, nationwide, quantitative, peer reviewed, academic level study on dechurching in America that’s ever been done. And so, we set out to prove or disprove this thesis. We are currently in the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country, and we proved it. And then we did two more successive phases, all three phases involving over 7,000 participants to understand these questions. Why they’re leaving, where they’re going, and what it will take to bring them back.
Michael, you’re a pastor at a church here. Are you applying some of the things you learned in this study?
Michael Graham: One of the things we talk about in the book is that the people that God has put into our lives probably fall in one of three buckets in terms of what they need from us as individuals or from us as an institution. And so, the people who aren’t that distant from church, they need a nudge from us. So, maybe that’s a text message, a phone call, or, you know, a personal invitation. Hey, you know, would you be willing to come to church with me this Sunday and let’s go eat after? The second bucket is folks who need from us, they need our dinner table and a level of relational intimacy that’s deeper and more intimate and more time consuming. And those two buckets, those people will probably actually return to the church. And overall, the, you know, the bad news of 40 million adult Americans leaving the church over half of them, over 20 million are willing to return today. The third bucket of people is people who need, you know, we need to be in their lives for years or decades, and it still might not make a difference. So, we’ve been working on teaching the people in our church. Really, it’s more coaching and spiritual formation then it is teaching, and it’s just talking through what does it look like to do two things well, one is relational wisdom, and that would be things like having awareness of God, awareness of self, awareness of others, awareness of how other people are experiencing you, cultural awareness and emotional awareness. And then having a local church that’s healthy, and I think a healthy local church is able to express three aspects of the gospel well, and that is the truth of the gospel, the goodness of the gospel, and the beauty of the gospel. And so, if you have a church as an institution that’s emphasizing the truth, goodness and beauty of the gospel, those three things at the same time, and as people, you know, we’re embodying those kinds of key awarenesses that together, you know, add up to relational wisdom. You do those two things together, you become persuasive and sticky and something that, you know, you have a Jesus that’s comprehensible and clear and tangible.
What an important and timely conversation. And that was just four little minutes. Can we send you that whole episode on CD for free? Yeah. All right. Then call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD about dechurching. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or now you can gift safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one words or two words. It doesn’t matter, just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.