Doing the (CMI) ‘2-step’ program
Published: 7 July 2006 (GMT+10)
What a great time it is to be a Christian! When I say this during my talks some people find it surprising.
The church is attempting to deal with many things today that hinder its growth and its influence on society. For example, the courts are changing laws that they have no authority to change, such as the definition of marriage. God is the author of marriage. He defined marriage back in Genesis as one man for one woman for life.
Consider church growth, or more specifically, the lack of it. USA statistics a few years ago indicated that 4000 churches per year were closing. A survey of churchgoers reveals some alarming facts: Only about 44% of born again adults (and only about 9% of teenagers) are certain that there is such a thing as absolute moral truth. Famous Christian pollster George Barna says in his book, Real Teens:
‘Consider this: If people do not accept the existence of absolute moral truth, then we will not get very far by describing to them the consequences of their sin. Why not? Because if there is no absolute moral truth, then there can be no difference between right and wrong. That then means there really is no such thing as sin, which implies that there cannot be judgment. Without judgment there is no condemnation, and without condemnation there is no need to be saved. Without a need for salvation, Jesus becomes a good teacher who performed some mighty works. But the eternal need for such a Savior is eliminated—simply because there is no absolute moral truth.’
Studies done last year by the Southern Baptist convention suggest that more than 80% of young people who grow up in the church will leave it when they get to post-secondary education. The famous Harvard professor E.O. Wilson admitted, ‘As were many persons from Alabama, I was a born again Christian. When I was 15, I entered the Southern Baptist Church with great fervor and interest in the fundamentalist religion. I left at 17 when I got to the University of Alabama and heard about evolutionary theory.’
These are significant problems—yet, as Christians, we are living in one of the best periods of history since Jesus and the apostles walked the earth! Never before have we had the wealth of information supporting and revealing so much of the biblical text (ultimately through the Holy Spirit, of course). With the books available to us today, in one weekend of reading we can acquire Bible knowledge that took great men of God in the past lifetimes of meticulous study to understand and fashion into books.
Information about Genesis is no different. None of the books that CMI stocks existed 50 years ago. Today Christians can get answers to sceptics’ questions that our grandparents never had.
But there’s still a problem: most Christians don’t have those answers. The sad irony is, that despite all of the great information being available, most Christians still cannot answer basic questions about the accuracy of the Bible. We are very much like the church described in Hebrews 5:12, ‘In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!’
Since the meaning of anything is tied to its origins, some of the ‘elementary truths’ (the ‘milk’) that we need are the starting points of the major teachings of Christianity. Where did sin come from? Where did death come from? Where did people come from? Where did the earth come from? Those questions, of course, take us back to Genesis, and the purpose of Creation Ministries International.
There are many church programs and even ‘self help’ programs available today, 5–step programs, 12–step etc. CMI has a 2–step program to remedy some of the problems that the church is facing today.
Step 1—Get equipped
CMI’s mission is to equip Christians with the basics–helping to provide answers to the tough questions about creation/evolution and Genesis. Creation seminars are on the front line in this area. Back in April 2005, after much hard work and planning, we had the largest conference ever organised by CMI–Canada—the Finding Answers conference in Kitchener, ON. We were prayerfully hoping for 350 people, but more than 600 showed up each night! We needed all the chairs that the church had in storage for ‘overflow’. After the first evening Gary Bates, our featured speaker from CMI–Australia, and I participated in a radio interview. During the show a lady called the station and, on the air gushed at how fascinating the first evening had been. She encouraged all the listeners to attend the second evening. This same level of excitement was shown by many who attended.
The reason is, people get excited when they find out that there are answers! It energises their faith. After a CMI meeting at a church in Saint John, NB this spring, a lady who was at that time attending a liberal church told the pastor, ‘I’m going to start coming to this church [instead] because I want to learn more about the Bible.’
Building the faith of Christians is only Step 1, only a means to an end.
Step 2—Witness as God brings opportunity
As Christians become more able to understand and therefore defend and explain their faith, the more they will be able to confidently share it with others. In this way Christians fulfill the command of 1 Peter 3:15 ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’
Leading people to Christ: that is the ultimate goal of Creation Ministries International. By ‘arming God’s army’ many non–believers will be reached. This was recognized by Pastor David T. following a CMI meeting near Ottawa. He said, ‘The session last evening on ‘Evangelism Strategies for an Evolutionized World’ was most helpful for us as pastors and churches in reaching out to a world that is largely without knowledge of the basics of Christianity. So thank you for your efforts on our behalf.’
Through speaking activities like tours, church meetings and CMI resources, God is using this ministry to bring change to society and renewal to the church.