According to Barna, small group involvement among teens is the most recent of the ‘big three’ to hit the skids – falling from 30% of teens being regularly involved in some sort of small group, back in 1997, down to just 21% at present.
Beliefs come first; reasons second. That’s the insightful message of “The Believing Brain,” by Michael Shermer, the founder of Skeptic magazine. In the book, he brilliantly lays out what modern cognitive research has to tell us about his subject—namely, that our brains are “belief engines” that naturally “look for and find patterns” and then infuse them with meaning. These meaningful patterns form beliefs that shape our understanding of reality. Our brains tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs, ignoring information that contradicts them. Mr. Shermer calls this “belief-dependent reality.” The well-worn phrase “seeing is believing” has it backward: Our believing dictates what we’re seeing.
- “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
- “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).
- “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
- “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
- “[Do] not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).
- “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (2 Timothy 3:10).
- “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Timothy 3:14).
- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7).
Is this just for apostles?
Historian and sociologist Rodney Stark finds that the historical pattern fits the current one. Decentralized church systems with a history of less formal schooling historically outperform top-heavy ones with heavy academic requirements.
From The Seminary Bubble
Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really good at doing something do it. Coaching is helping to identify the skills and capabilities that are within the person, and enabling them to use them to the best of their ability.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Harvard researchersboth independently studied the correlation between believing in hell and economic development. Each analyzed years of data from dozens of countries, and in each case the results were the same: The more a population believes in hell, the less corrupt and more prosperous their country’s economy is.
For many years I have studied the theology underlying biblicism, the fundamentalist belief in the absolute authority of the Bible in every aspect of life, only to conclude that it is not theological in nature at all, but rather entirely psychological. That is, biblicism is not, as its adherents claim and think, an implication of a set of beliefs about the Bible but rather the outgrowth of a particular frame of mind.
Robert M. Price is an American theologian and writer. He is professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Coleman Theological Seminary, professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and the author of a number of books on theology and the historicity of Jesus, including Deconstructing Jesus (2000), The Reason Driven Life (2006), and Inerrant the Wind: The Evangelical Crisis in Biblical Authority (2009).