Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Reversal of the 3 B's

Over the last 2-3 decades a reversal of sorts has taken place in the way many people join the Church. For years (centuries even) the Church's approach took the form of 3 B's. First, a person wanting to join the Church had to Believe. This generally took the form of either a private or public response to an altar call of one kind or another. After one Believed, she had to Behave. That is, she had to adjust her lifestyle to the culture of the church she wanted to join. Only then - after one's behavior aligned with her belief - could she Belong to the church.

As I've already mentioned, this process of Believe, Behave, and Belong has reversed itself in recent years and I think it's a good and necessary reversal for churches seeking to be obedient to the way of Jesus.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is found in Jesus' interaction with his first disciples. Notice that Jesus did not expect his disciples to believe who he was before he invited them into his circle. He simply invited them to journey with him and to start living his way of life. So the disciples hung around with Jesus for 3 years or so, and even at the end of that time one disciple in particular still did not believe until he could put his hand on the wounds of the resurrected Jesus. Sure, this disciple belonged. He may have even behaved like a disciple of Jesus. But the process was not complete until he Believed. Interesting isn't it? Jesus actually reverses the process we have become so accustomed to in Western Christianity... or maybe we have reversed HIS process.

So what adjustments do we need to make in our evangelistic efforts to help people follow Jesus more closely in their lives? How could the Belong, Behave, Believe approach be lived out in and through our churches?