My co-worker Derek Melleby started our CPYU Bookshelf blog because of a question we get asked over and over: “What are you reading?” It’s a place where we share thoughts, reflections, and recommendations on stuff we’ve read that we think others might find challenging and helpful.
Every now and then, I’ll read something that stirs me so deeply that I wish I could grab everyone I know, encourage them to read it, and then spend some time together sorting out the implications of what we’ve just read. Today I’m passing on one of those literary gems.
I thought I’d try to summarize Mark Galli’s great piece – “In The Beginning Grace: Evangelicals Desparately Need Spiritual and Moral Renewal – On That Everyone Agrees. But What Do We Do About It?” – in the latest edition of Christianity Today. But I can’t. I figured it’s actually best for you to sit down for 20 minutes and read the article for yourself. I’m not sure what Galli says is going to sit well with everyone (he challenges some of our sacred cows), but his call to focus more on the vertical and less on the horizontal (read the article to learn more) is timely and right on. In addition, there’s Craig Brian Larson’s helpful sidebar on the power of Biblical preaching, “A Vertical Discipline.”
This is all good stuff. I’m increasingly convinced from my travels in the church and the world of youth ministry that we need to be asking the difficult questions Galli challenges us to ask. A couple of weeks ago I listened in on a group of youth workers who were strategizing on how to meet a specific shared concern. Sadly, there was no conscious theological reflection. Instead, the group jumped headfirst into a discussion of pragmatic strategies with little on no thought put on the foundations (or lack thereof) or the possible outcomes of each. It was all about the horizontal in the here and now. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that these good-hearted youth workers who are driven by a sincere desire to serve Christ and reach lost kids were doing the best they could based on what they had learned from years and years of ministry modeling that was trickling down from prior generations. Strategizing void of a deep consideration of theological foundations and possible outcomes has all-to-often become the norm.
I hope you’ll take 20 minutes to read Galli’s article. Then, let’s get thinking and talking about his challenge to the church.