A revival of credibility
It only takes a moment of observation to see that the evangelical church has a credibility issue, partly due to the ongoing scandals and failings of some of its most prominent leaders. This leaves many of us asking... what is the real issue? Today we are sharing an article that attempts an answer to this question. Its author is Dr. Kevin Baird, the Director of Pastoral Ministries at the Florida Family Policy Council and the Director of The Florida Capitol Project, an initiative that seeks to connect Florida pastors with their civic representatives for prayer, partnership (in righteous programs), and public policy discussions. The article is titled Where is the HGTV show for those who lay foundations? and we have included it here:
“According to the grace of God, which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it…”
I Corinthians 3:10a
My wife Tracie is an HGTV junkie. She loves “house” shows of any kind or sort. Whether it be real estate purchases, renovations, new builds, vacation homes, international housing, or interior decorating, it is all being recorded on the DVR for later viewing consumption. Of course, all that HGTV knowledge has paid off as she is a superior renovator and decorator herself, as all that design knowledge has been put to excellent use in our personal home. As a husband, I am certainly proud to receive guests and show off our interior design.
I too watch HGTV, mostly because my wife enjoys watching it, but also because I learn a few DIY things along the way. I think it’s every man’s dream to be the ultimate handyman. I am convinced there is something in a man’s DNA that likes to do something productive with his hands. I have no scientific proof for that, but my guy circles seem to confirm that proclivity. However, in all my HGTV viewing, I have never seen a show on pouring or preparing a foundation. Yes, there may be a minute or two referencing the foundation of a new building. Perhaps a couple more minutes referencing the foundation if an older building has a problem. Overall, however, foundations are not glitzy. It would be hard to develop an HGTV show that revolved around rebar and cement. There is no demand for a 12-week show entitled, “Pouring the Foundation”, with hours of footage of cement trucks spinning and concrete flowing into square or rectangular frames.
No one actually cares about foundations…
You may remember the June 24, 2021, Surfside Condo Collapse, which occurred in Miami burying 98 people. The condo was over 40 years old, but apparently had experienced significant compromise and deterioration in its foundation. It was actually discovered 3 years before the collapse, but as is often the case, the imperative to address such hidden and mundane aspects of the building were pushed ever forward until the building came crashing down. Everything looked great by way of exterior design and decoration, but the foundations were crumbling unseen and ignored.
There is an important principle here…
Foundations may not get you a TV show on HGTV, but they will ultimately save your life.
Recently, there has been a convergence of events that have presented themselves at the Baird household. Local churches (notice plural) with whom we have knowledge and relationship have found themselves in unprecedented shaking. Everything on the outside looked great, but something was systemically wrong in the foundations. At the same time, we have received wonderful notes (my wife in particular) from relationships built some time ago thanking us specifically for laying a good foundation in their lives.
It could not have been a greater encouragement…
It has been hard to pastor these last years in 21st century America. Ministries are all too often evaluated on the basis of design, decoration, and artistic flair. Much like HGTV, the visible churches which receive the greatest adulations are those whose ministry design and décor hypnotize their audiences. Who can blame them? People love watching the glitzy and trendy. No one really thinks about foundations.
At least not until it collapses…
My wife, after receiving one such note of affirmation concerning her ministry of foundation laying, said, “You know, we really have made a difference in people’s lives”. She is right; we have. I was reminded that foundation laying, even spiritual foundations, are not always the glitzy aspect of Christian ministry. It is laborious and candidly, hard work. Christians rarely clamor for a foundational “word”, but rather something “new” and revelatory. We want the one-liner, feel good, make me clap kind of word. We don’t want depth. We want decoration. And pity the one who asks to check the foundations for they will be rebuked quickly as being too elementary or “judgmental”.
Until it collapses…
Then everyone acts stunned…
As people, ministries, churches, and unfortunately pastors are collapsing, we are again reminded about foundations…
But the weird thing is that even after the collapse, most ministries (dare I say people?) refuse to look at the foundations, but rather go back to figuring out how they can afford the right décor again.
“If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”
Folks, foundations are critical. Not glitzy or glamorous, but essential.
Paul reminded us that the great collapse of the end time church will be linked to people embracing “doctrines of demons” (I Timothy 4:1). In other words, foundational issues were neglected or ignored. Could it be the reason the Church of the West is generally anemic and impotent is not because we aren’t using the newest methods, but rather have neglected the basic foundations?
Do you know what the Gospel is precisely?
Do you understand the primary form, function, and purpose of the Church?
Do you understand the nature of God in all His fullness?
Do you understand what was accomplished at the Cross, the Resurrection, and the neglected Ascension?
Do you understand the real nature of grace?
Do you understand the biblical definition of love?
Do you understand the place of the Law?
Can you distinguish between obedience and legalism?
(To name but a few…)
These are foundational concepts in order to navigate our walk with God successfully in our current era. These are battle lines where a war over the foundations are raging.
If you don’t get some of these concepts embedded in your spirit and soul, you will not be prepared for what is ahead. And by the way, this doesn’t demand a college education or proficiency in ancient languages. It certainly doesn’t mean you apprehend all these things in the first week of your journey with Christ. It does mean that when people (and especially pastors) who supposedly walked with God for decades suddenly collapse, that something is foundationally wrong. That isn’t judgment; it is diagnosis.
So, let’s restore the foundations shall we?
Maybe it’s time to jettison the “feel-good” vibe we spend untold hours cultivating in the West and attempt to dig the foundations. Stability has benefits. One of those benefits is credibility. And if there is one thing we need in these days is a revival of credibility.
- Carrie Schuessler