’s book, The Shape of Faith to Come
is an enlightening read, one that unveils the truth about evangelicals and their faith (and in some instances, the lack of it). This work is based on research, not just someone’s perception of what might be. Brad’s research included a sampling of 2500 Protestants who consider themselves regular church attenders. Attendance was determined as at least attending one worship service per month. This means that it is very possible that a majority of those polled are attending a Sunday School class or small group.
The first startling statistic that caught my attention was in response to this statement…
How much do you agree/disagree: Christians must continually work toward their salvation or risk losing it?
Only 23% of the those polled “disagreed strongly.”
Only 10% “disagreed somewhat.”
This means that, if your group is a reflection of the average evangelical community, you have a substantial percentage of group members whose hearts feel the load of performance-based faith, one of the enemy’s most dangerous weapons. These group members are consistently trying to do enough to be accepted by God. When they sin they not only feel deep, debilitating guilt, they fear they are unworthy of the home Christ is preparing for those who are His children and that they may not attain it. These individuals never feel secure in their faith and so they seldom speak of Christ and His atoning work in their lives to others. These individuals know of the gospel but don’t have a deep enough understanding of it to embrace it fully. Let’s face it, these group members are being influenced more by the deceiver than by their Savior. They are in bondage and don’t even realize it.
The foundational doctrine of “grace alone” must be established in the life of each of your group members. A few suggestions that may help in doing this…
· Consistently speak of your own struggle with sin (sins of omission and commission) and that, even though you sometimes sin, your eternity is not based on your actions rather Christ’s actions on the cross.
· Tie the cross into as many group studies as possible. In so doing you establish that the only act that can deal with our sin was the crucifixion of Christ and His willingness to be the final sacrifice for all of us.