Integration of life and faith really seems to be the rub church leaders face. However, most church leaders, according to researcher George Barna, rate their members far higher than the members rate themselves. Only 16 percent surveyed put their faith at the top of the list. (Read the entire article Many Americans Unbalanced in Faith, Lifestyle, Says Study at Christian Post.)
“It seems as if God is in, but living for God is not,” said Barna. “Many Americans are living a dual life – one filled with good feelings about God and faith, corroborated by some simple religious practices, and another in which they believe they are in control of their own destiny and operate apart from Him.”
The researcher further noted that only one out of four who say their faith has “greatly transformed” their life placed their faith practices and pursuits as their highest life priority. Many deem themselves spiritual and greatly transformed by their faith, but have yet to put their faith into practice.
The great disconnect lies in what I think has been the imparting of knowledge (having right teaching) devoid of an emphasis of practicing right living The reasoning concludes one could teach something he doesn’t live, as long as what he is teaching is true or correct.
What I see is a need for both truth in word and in deed. Leadership in our local churches needs a dose of modeling the very character traits we teach. Transformation counts. And us leaders need to know transformation in our own lives and lead from there, not just in theories or examples of dead preachers from the 17th and 18th century or earlier.
It seems that even having transformation is not enough. Indeed, we must walk a fine line between legalism on one end and license on the other. Our culture obviously feels we are in control. As Americans, living faith under a God who is sovereign is problematic. We do not like submission. We do not like communal creeds. It is all about individuality.
My main point here is that our culture and our faith exist in dualities as Barna expresses. How do we transcend this?
Read more from researcher Barna here.