This is the third post in a series by John Lanferman about fighting the fight of faith in the midst of leadership transition. Click here to view all posts in this series.
The Present Landscape
There are many influences that are affecting the church today.
- Emerging church: This post-evangelical, charismatic movement is identified with strong environmental concerns, social justice and concern for the poor. There is much we can have in concert with this stream.
- Reformissional: These are churches marked with a reformed-missional approach; being influenced by men who lead big churches and movements.
- Charismatic/Pentecostal: This group, marked by signs and wonders may often appear as “mystics” who may have a lack of doctrinal foundation.
- Business models: These are noted for doing church with a consumer-oriented approach.
- Reformed/Charismatic: This approach carries the challenge of looking to be doctrinally robust while having charismatic distinctives and practice.
The issue before us is the same issue that faced Timothy: the “fight of faith.” What is our unique identity? How has God led us? How has He shaped us? Where is he leading us?
Identity & Transition
Transition is a crisis that leads one to question the present and to consider the potential for new direction. How much of our past is carried into the future? Past methods, strategies, and even style are expendable; however our values, faith, and theology, along with the prophecies that have shaped and given direction to us, are not expendable. Moving forward in our mission can often look like the covered wagons going west who had to jettison some things that would hinder their journey.
Many things we hold may need to be questioned, however the way forward is often found as we cast our eye backward. Paul reminds Timothy:
“I entrust to you Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Timothy 1:18-19).
Paul speaks of the prophecies Timothy received so that “by them he may wage the good warfare holding faith and a good conscience.” We look back in order to look forward. Through God’s revealed will, we see where we have come from and what lessons and values God has made a part of our DNA. Paul cast Timothy’s eyes back to prophecies given him and gives Timothy instruction accordingly so he may fight the good fight of faith.
What are the promises that have given us shape and direction? Who are we? Who has God made us to be? What is our unique flavor in the body of Christ? There is no more crucial issue facing us in this present time of transition than this fight of believing God. It involves knowing what we believe and what we signed up for. I refer us to biblical faith that has been the key element in motivating, strengthening men of scripture to accomplish the miraculous.
Subjective or Objective?
Biblical faith is both subjective and objective.
- Subjectively it is personal and rooted in prophecy, promises, faith and a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18-19).
- Objectively Paul is addressing doctrinal error and practice.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
In future blog posts, I want to answer the following questions:
- In what sense is our fight a fight of faith?
- Why does the apostle Paul call it a good fight?
- How do we go about engaging n this fight successfully?
Finding our way forward involves a fight to find our mission based upon real faith. This will involve a battle.