Written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
To set context, let’s consider key changes taking place in the Twin Cities. According to the 2015 CityView Report for the Twin Cities (compiled by Dr. John Mayer, one of our Cover-to-Cover teachers), Buddhists in the Twin Cities now number 72,500 people, and Hindus 41,500. Islam grew from 1 family in 1946 to 132 mosques for 161,000 Muslims in 2015. There are now 117,200 people involved in cults, sects and the occult meeting in 873 groups. An estimated 20,000 witches meet in over 300 covens across the Twin Cities. The rapid growth trends for all these groups are expected to continue. Similar trends are undoubtedly taking place in other cities across North America — and in other Western countries too.
Churches are also facing significant change. Expect to see, over the next few decades, a record number of baby boomer pastors retiring, traditional church buildings closing their doors, a shift to multi-site churches, a rise in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic immigrant church plants, and increasing numbers of house churches. All the changes outlined above can be a great opportunity — if sufficient gospel internalization takes place for churches to flourish, build bridges and sow the gospel into their communities and elsewhere.
However, ‘Folk Christianity’ is on the rise. In a previous blog we noted that just 19% of ‘born again’ Christians understand the Great Commission — closer to 4% amongst those who don’t consider themselves ‘born again’ (George Barna in Evangelism That Works.) Biblical literacy is so low that 81% of born again Christians think ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a Bible verse. D.A. Carson has shown (in The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism) how postmodernism has engulfed the church, neutralizing its impact. Preaching and teaching is often anemic. Small groups barely get beyond superficial Bible study. Corporate worship and youth ministries have been reduced to entertainment. Today few Christians can articulate the gospel, although it is of primary importance for the church (1 Corinthians 15:3). The options before us: wither or grow. We as the church in North America need revival.
This is an urgent problem. We — our generation — must correct course. If we are indeed spiritually regenerated new creatures motivated by the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-39), then as Christ’s disciples, we will internalize and live out Biblical truth joyfully. As this happens, fathers lead spiritually in the home, parents disciple their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), churches preach and teach biblically, and small groups disciple and multiply, sowing the gospel out into their communities (Matthew 28:19). Internalized Biblical truth, animated by the Holy Spirit and motivated by love, brings restoration and revival. Jesus is clear: to be fruitful, we must abide in Him.
Within seventy years, starting with Jesus and the twelve disciples, the Roman Empire was turned upside down by the gospel. This kind of movement starts with people internalizing and living out God’s Truth. This is what Village Schools is all about: Teaching God’s Word and transforming lives. Given what is going on in our broken world today, God’s transforming truth is needed in our hearts and lives more urgently than ever before. Spiritual drift is dangerous (1 Peter 5:8). It inevitably erodes one’s ability to be fruitful. Stay engaged, maturing, and growing in Christ (Ephesians 4:15). God’s desire is to keep you close, healthy and fruitful (John 15:4).
The most consistent feedback from students who’ve taken the Cover-to-Cover course is this: “We’ve never studied the Bible like this before — this is life changing!” This is a tribute to the extraordinary power of God’s Word made alive in people’s hearts by the Holy Spirit. Check out other student feedback here.
If you live outside the Twin Cities (or anywhere in the world, for that matter), consider taking Cover-to-Cover online. You will be blessed learning alongside other followers of Christ who could be from anywhere on the globe!
Church campus options with traditional classes are available in the Twin Cities, as well as in Rochester, MN and Des Moines, IA.
For more information, click here.
1. Barna, G. Evangelism That Works. Regal, 1995.
2. Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Zondervan, 1996
3. Mayer, J. CityView Report. CityView, 2015.