My mind and heart has been absolutely bombarded this week…so hopefully by the time I’m done with this post it will make sense. But I want to challenge us to look inwardly for a little while, if that’s okay.
I value creativity. Pretty highly, actually. I consider myself to be a fairly creative person. I love putting together new games and icebreakers. I get a lot of energy out of planning and bringing together themed fellowship events. I get geeked out when I have an opportunity to design promo material, or video compilations. Our annual Youth Revival really gets me going, because often times it ends up being a potpourri of all of these different areas of creativity, and then some. I’m certainly no Brandon Shanks or Ryan O’Neil; there are guys MUCH better at this than me. But still…it’s kinda my thing.
But this debate that is going on right now around the Godhead is absolutely turning me inside out. I’ve been a student of Oneness theology. I believe it to the core. I feel like I can articulate it very well. Several times I’ve locked horns in healthy debate with trinitarian ministers or seminary students to defend a strictly monotheistic view of God. That’s not what worries me. What’s eating my lunch is this…can my students do that?
At our Florida District Conqueror’s Camp this past year I had the privilege of running games and icebreakers for our 15-16 year-old campers prior to the day service. Brainstorming a way to integrate a ministry I’m very passionate about, Bible Quizzing, I settled on breaking them into teams and running a quiz with what I thought were “soft ball” questions. Nothing intense…just basic Bible questions, infused with some questions on Oneness and the New Birth Experience.
I was literally shattered at how pitifully they performed.
Question after question went by without a correct answer. Things like “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is what?” or “Which chapters in Acts record people receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” We’re not talking “Explain the type and shadow represented by Moses striking the rock in the wilderness.” We’re talking Apostolic 101. Or so I thought.
So I decided to see if my students faired any better. They did, thankfully…but admittedly, it wasn’t MUCH better. As a matter of fact, when I gave them a written test on basic doctrinal concepts, most scored around 60%-70%.
To be honest, I largely forgot about that night in Youth Service, until this week. Now it’s striking a chord in my heart. An overwhelming sense of desperation has overtaken me, and I must ask myself, “Am I preparing this next generation of Apostolics to defend this precious doctrine?” Am I giving them an opportunity to “buy the truth, and sell it not?”
An unbiased glance at where my time has been spent tells me something’s out of whack. And if it’s true for me, I wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s true for you, too. So let’s ask ourselves a couple of questions (notice I said “ourselves…” I’m talking to me here, too):
- Do we find ourselves getting up at 3 AM to take students to a theme park, but unwilling to get up at 5 AM to pray?
- Do we find ourselves spending hours scanning the internet for ideas for a new stage design, but minutes scanning the Word for a quick thought for Youth Service?
- Do we find ourselves skipping lunch to work on a promo video, but unwilling to pass the plate when it’s time to fast?
- Do we find ourselves playing basketball with our students, but leaving them at home when we need to make a ministry visit?
- Do we find ourselves staying current on youth culture, but our doctrinal sword is dull?