What Every Christian Should Know… How to Do
By: Dr. James Emery White
You’ve seen the articles:
“What every driver should know how to do.”
“What every parent should know how to do.”
“What every student should know how to do.”
The idea is that just as there are certain things we should know, as in facts or figures or cultural literacy, there are certain things we should also know how to do.
For example, every driver should know how to fill up their gas tank, check the oil, and change a tire (we’ll assume that because they have a license, they know how to drive – no jokes, please).
Yet such matters are different than knowing about cars.
What we’re talking about is the practical knowledge needed if you are going to drive one.
Okay, now that we’ve got the set-up, here’s the question:
Does this apply for someone hoping to follow Christ?
This isn’t talked about much. We outline a great deal about what a Christian should know theologically (about Jesus, the cross, the Bible), and what they should feel personally (forgiven, blessed, united), but not much about what a Christian should be able to do.
The key word is “able.”
To my thinking, this is a huge hole in current strategies surrounding discipleship.
The discipleship currently in vogue is termed “formation.” Usually this means making our personal relationship with Jesus even more personal. In other words, Christ being formed in us.
Which is, of course, good.
But somehow we seem to miss out on the importance of learning how to do certain things.
It’s like the value of the old Foxfire books. I don’t know if you remember them, but they were a series of books designed to capture how to do certain things before technology causes us to forget. Such as,
How do you plant a garden?
How do you breed chickens and gather eggs?
How do you turn cotton into cloth?
How do you milk a cow?
I’m no prepper, but maybe I’m watching too much of The Walking Dead. But if we lose these basic skills, we lose more than we realize.
So here are five things every Christian should be able to do.
Not simply what they should do, think about doing, or want to do – but actually be trained to be “able” to do – before it’s gone as a lost art. All of the “Sample Teaching Series” listed below can be found on the Message Downloads page of ChurchandCulture.org.
1. Read the Bible.
There is a difference between someone knowing they should read their Bible, even trying to read their Bible, and knowing how to read their Bible. Where should they start? How do they interpret it? How should it be applied?
Helpful Reading: Gordon Fee, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.
Sample Teaching Series: “How to Bible”
Praying is not something most people know how to do beyond desperate 911 calls for help. Progressing through the great movements of prayer, such as adoration, or confession, or thanksgiving and supplication is a needed skill.
Helpful Reading: Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray.
Sample Teaching Series: “Power Praying”
3. Share their faith.
Whether it’s taking someone through the “Roman Road,” or a simple rendering of John 3:16, knowing how to witness is often absent in a Christ follower’s life. Even if it’s just being able to relay their “story” in regard to faith, being able to testify is essential.
Helpful Reading: Rebecca Pippert, Out of the Saltshaker.
Sample Teaching Series: “Sent”
4. Manage their resources.
We all have been given the big three to manage: time, talent and treasure. The idea of comprehensive “stewardship” is often reduced to tithing. Not to disparage the importance of that discipline in any way, but it is making something radically comprehensive a bit truncated. True stewardship involves managing not only financial resources, but all of our material assets, as well as our time, abilities, skills and spiritual gifts.
Helpful Reading: Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle.
Sample Teaching Series: “MapQuest: Journeying to Financial Freedom” or “My New Year’s Revolution”
The act of worship is more than singing a song. It involves a preparation of the heart and mind, and then the engagement of prayer and Word, song and gift, sacrament and symbol. But how do you worship God in spirit and truth? If nothing else, people should understand how to embrace and engage the great sacraments of the church.
Helpful Reading: Ralph Martin, Worship in the Early Church and The Worship of God.
Sample Teaching Series: “Live Out Loud” (Baptism) and “Communion Weekend” (The Lord’s Supper)
I know, there’s more than these five we should know how to “do.” And I also know that a fulsome understanding of discipleship should never be reduced to training along these lines.
Don’t you think we all ought to know how to do at least these five?
James Emery White
Note: James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).