Pastor Mark Moore, of Providence Community Church in Plano, Texas, is a friend that I met about five years ago on a retreat in Colorado. Recently, we connected again through Facebook and then his reading of my book, Your Church Is To Small. Then last week we shared a long telephone conversation that led me to read his blogs and visit his church site online with real interest. (I look forward to spending time with Mark in 2012, especially since I hope to launch a cohort group in the Dallas area.) As I perused Mark's church site I came across one of the best descriptions of the role of right doctrine that I have read. I share it here because I believe it fosters the very kind of thinking that I continually encourage you (and your mission) to embrace.
As a church we want to be characterized by believing the gospel. Believingis meant to convey a continuous, ongoing commitment to the gospel–living in the reality that Jesus is the reigning Lord and we are citizens of his kingdom.
Confessional vs. Functional
We believe there is a significant difference between confessional Christianity and functional Christianity.
Confessional Christianity is typically measured by whether or not I believe the right things. In America, 94% of the population confess belief in God. Furthermore, 42% of Americans claim to be born again Christians and of those, 71% confess that they are "absolutely committed" to the Christian faith.
However, the Barna Group reports that in spiritual surveys conducted in 2006, four themes emerged time and again. Two of them were:
People do not have an accurate view of themselves when it comes to spirituality.
If people's faith is objectively measured against a biblical standard of how faith is to be practiced, Americans are spiritually lukewarm.
This begs the question, is true Christianity only to be measured by what I believe, or also by how I live?
Functional Christianity is when your confession impacts your way of life — you are functioning in accordance with your confession that Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is the reigning Lord of heaven and earth, then discipleship (true Christianity) is measured not simply by what I believe, but by how I live my life in relation to the rule of Jesus. In other words, the gospel should impact every area of my life.
Check out Providence at: http://www.providencecommunity.com
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If the term didn’t have so much baggage he could have just said faith AND works.
Doesn’t it also seem just as important (to some extent) that those functional beliefs are the RIGHT confessional beliefs? Otherwise don’t we end up with pushing for unitarianism?
John, thanks for your kind words.
Cary, I couldn’t agree with you more! That is why I tend to preach expositionally through books of the Bible. This allows for right confession, which leads to right function. I believe that what we believe completely shapes how we live. It is really impossible to say everything all at once on a website.
Fr. Merrin, I too wish I could simply say faith and works. Airlines aren’t the only ones these days that charge you for baggage.
whose to say what those neccesary teachings are though? or define what is neccesary for the “functional” to be properly ordered?