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Oak Harbor, WA
4 Stars Out Of 5
Convincing Millennials to stay in church
December 17, 2013
Oak Harbor, WA
We've seen the statistics. The Millennials are leaving the church. Caleb wants them to stay. He wants them to infiltrate the church and bring it to a greater commitment to Jesus.
This requires courage, commitment, and a whole lot more. For example, he writes, "Do not shy away from speaking directly to the evils that sneak into your church. Openly speak against lukewarmness, head knowledge, pharisaical living, Christian snobbery, spiritual laziness, pride, conditional love, borrowed faith, consumerism, judgmentalism, cynicism, and grieving the Holy Spirit." (45) Whew! I'm overwhelmed just reading that list. He also adds that it is to be done "Quietly, gradually." (56) That is quite an assignment.
He gives quite a plan for infiltrating your church. I was a bit overwhelmed with all the suggestions. I think you might want to pick a couple of the ideas and do them well. If you form a group, more of the suggestions could be accomplished.
He also gives a number of requirements to infiltrate. Here are some: You cannot be mediocre in prayer. You must let your heart be broken where needed. You must live through the power of the Holy Spirit. You must become childlike. You must be intentional and intuitive. You need deep trust in yourself.
He admits that infiltrating is not for everyone. He has great sections on evaluating your church and deciding when to leave.
This book overwhelmed me. I don't think any one person can do what Caleb desires. If you really feel called to stay at your church and work to make it what God intended, you may want to gather others around you and make it a group effort. And be prepared for hurt. Caleb mentions hurt, almost in passing, on the last two pages of his book. I wish he would have given it more consideration because it is going to happen.
This is how I suggest this book be used. If you feel called to stay in your church and infiltrate, find some others with a like mind and go through this book together. There are no discussion questions in the book but there are additional resources you can download at the book's website.
Outstanding book! Caleb is very talented and his writing is captivating, however what makes this book outstanding is his uncanny ability to give you the biblical foundation of why you should stay and invest in the local church and also the many practical ways of doing so. A must read.
For me, the timing of this book was spot on! I needed to hear what Caleb had to say about how the believer is to relate to the church. Over the past several months, God has been showing me the parallel between Him/His church (bride) and the institution of marriage, through His Word as well as other believers. Walking away is not an option for the believer in either relationship. Beginning to see the church in that light has been a great relief to me when I become overwhelmed by an array of frustrations concerning the local church.
The concept of infiltration was intriguing when Caleb brought it up and really won me over as he developed it with a heavy reliance upon Scripture. In some aspects, I feel my wife and I have been growing toward that kind of living, though there are still some hardened areas within us that we are asking God to break.
I appreciate Caleb's attention to the critically significant role of the Holy Spirit in my desire to see heart change in our people. Through a new Bible reading plan my wife and I have adopted over the last two months I am seeing that it is not merely my understanding of God's Word that transforms my heart, but the very Word itself that changes my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit as I take in more and more of it. This is the Holy Spirit's work (Job 32:8, 1 Corinthians 2:6-14). As a believer is increasingly exposed to the Word of God, transformation and revival will happen in that heart ("My [God's] word will not return void" (Isaiah 55:10-11))!
Caleb's development of the idea of being childlike in our trust of and reliance upon God also struck a cord with me. Too often I default to a practical approach to God's promises rather than merely taking Him at His Word. About a year ago I simply trusted God when He said He would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13), and started praying toward that end of having a greater sense of His presence. I realized this is not a one time prayer, but needs to be a petition (persistent request) to the Father (Philippians 4:6). Though a feeling of "silliness" sometimes shows up within me, I have realized that God desires for me to be humbled that much and to be that hopefully dependent upon Him. And yes, He is growing in me a greater awareness of His presence and guidance.
Finally, the book I finished prior to this was "Ablaze with His Glory: A plea for revival in our time" by Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. Over the last several months I have also been deliberately progressing through A.W. Tozer's "Pursuit of God". I say this for God's glory; the core message of "Called to Stay" comes from the same heart desire revealed in those two books: calling the church, God's people to turn back to Him with all our "heart, soul, mind, and strength."
May the impact of God's voice through this book, which is founded on His Word, bring praise and glory to our Heavenly Father!
First, I must say, I am not the target audience for this book. I'm a bit older than a 'millennial.' Also, I have never left the church, nor do I plan to leave the church. I love my church and the people that are my church family.
That being said, I see the problem of young people leaving the church as very real and one that needs to be addressed. I am not a believer in church as entertainment or diversion or church attendance to earn your way into heaven. I am a believer in church being a place that demonstrates real, sacrificial, Christ-like love that flows out of Biblical teaching.
I believe Called To Stay shows those who feel their church is lacking in those areas how to set about showing these things first in their own lives and then directing others in their church to love as Christ loved. To love within the church, then to those outside the church.
My one criticism for the book is the use of the term "Infiltrate" for those who want to show Christlike love in the church. Infiltrate has negative connotations, it is something false teachers do, and I wish Caleb had used a different term for infusing Christ's love into the church.
I plan to pass this book along, and I would recommend it to any young person disillusioned with their local church.