A big challenge facing renewal leaders today is the shaping of Christian minds. On a regular basis, congregants name convictions that are clearly inconsistent with a biblical world view. Sadly, these inconsistencies diminish the faith community’s role as salt and light, sets believers against believers, and keeps Jesus followers from living the full Christ life based on their identity in him. The challenge of re-shaping the Christian mind is nothing new. The heart of Jesus’ ministry was reshaping the way people thought about God’s Kingdom from a culture of might to a culture of love. So, what is a renewal leader to do today? Some avoid controversy at all costs while others seem to speak into every news cycle. Neither is preferable. The former results in little progress towards greater Christlikeness while the latter creates communities of uniformity rather than unity. There is a better way.
Here are commitments that help shape the Christian mind:
Commitment 1: Bathe Your Mind In A Biblical World View
Shaping Christian minds begins by shaping the mind of a leader. Leaders must immerse themselves in the Word and prayer while reflecting on the philosophies of the day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Notable progress is being made when identity flows directly from our life in Christ, values are consistent with the twin commitments of loving God and neighbor and convictions no longer conform to any earthly camp.
Commitment 2: Become Fluent In The Power of Bias
Brian McLaren (link to “Why Can’t We See?” here) identifies thirteen biases that shape worldviews including confirmation bias (we tend to embrace what we already believe), community bias (we tend to choose tribe over truth), complexity bias (we tend to choose simple lies over complex reality), cash bias (we tend to choose self-interest over the interest of others). Understanding the power of bias helps liberate the Christian mind.
Commitment 3: Nurture Resilience Before engaging The Battle
In an interview with Carey Nieuwhof (link is here), Ed Stetzer said that pastors who are doing their jobs well will, likely, make 20% of their congregation uncomfortable at any given time. I’d add that the 20% is ever changing since a biblical world view gores everyone’s ox at some time or another. Only resilient pastors can withstand that level of disquiet. Resilience comes from a deep sense of calling and profound identity in Christ.
Commitment 4: Be Wise In Choosing The Hills To Conquer
Not every potential battle for the Christian mind has to be waged. Wise pastors choose a few anchor principles, knowing that when those principles are embraced the entire false world view will, simultaneously, be addressed. Those principles must be rooted in the biblical text and less connected to news cycles than to broader Kingdom convictions.
Commitment 5: Believe Broad Consensue Already Exists
Mature renewal leaders understand that the Spirit is already shaping Christian minds in the congregation. Despite heated rhetoric on the edges the vast majority of congregants share common beliefs and convictions. Knowing that there is agreement in the middle, provides courage to address the periphery.
Commitment 6: Be Humble With Convictions
Teachers must be willing to be taught. It is hoped that pastors are a bit more contemplative about Scripture and theology and, therefore, a bit freer from the spirit of the age. Still, they too are subject to bias and can miss the complexities inherent in the issues of the day. Leaders must humbly listen and learn.
Commitment 7: Be WIlling To LIve With A Somewhat Smaller But More Robust Faith Community
Jesus spoke uncomfortable, crowd dispersing truth believing that a more robust core of believers would change the world. Renewal leaders who shape Christian minds courageously speak Gospel truth in Gospel love hoping to shape a community that will again change the world both for good and for God.