Monday, June 04, 2012

The Gospel for Those Who’ve Grown Up in Church

Guest post by Dan Darling

I grew up going to church every single time the doors were open—and often when the doors were not. Thankfully God gifted me with parents who saw the importance of Christian education on all levels—home, school, and church. They endowed with me a rich evangelical tradition.

However, there is a certain tendency among 2nd Generation kids like me to assume the gospel. Somehow we think the depravity in our own church-up hearts is less bad than the stumbling addict who craws in on Sunday and begs for God’s mercy to save his life. 
I think there are three ways church kids miss the gospel: 
  1. We think the presentation of grace at the end of every sermon is for someone else and not me. Can’t tell you how often I sort of zoned out whenever the pastor would give his end-of-the-sermon invitation. I’ve heard other church kids express a similar tendency. We can blame this on a improper explanation of how the gospel empowers my sanctification, but if I were honest I would have to simply chalk this up as spiritual pride. I’m not one of those desperate people who need Jesus. I’ve got him. I’m on my way to Heaven. I’m on to more important things. Oh that we who’ve been nurtured in grace might recognize our desperation. 
  2. We think there might be a possibility of avoiding the daily sin struggle. Maybe we’ve been reared by Dare to Discipline or Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Maybe we’ve employed courtship rather than dating, were virgins until marriage, and never took a sip of alcohol. But there is no system that will eradicate what the Fall has rendered defective. Even good church kids enter this world with a corrupted nature and only the gospel can transform us. There is no escaping the daily struggle with sin. No system, no discipline, no perfect attendance record. 2nd Generation kids often feel they have to hide their struggle with sin, as if revealing weakness means something went wrong in the great evangelical assembly line that produce him or her. But we’d be wise to acknowledge our weakness and need for God’s sustaining grace. 
  3. We easily get bored with simple truths. I already know that, is our motto. We’ve been catechized, homeschooled, awarded in Awana, trained in Sunday School, and aced Bible college. And so we’re constantly looking for titillating new revelations not previously mined from Scripture. Or we sit in church with blank stares and mouths open with a perpetual yawn. But how can you yawn at the unsearchable riches of Christ? Can all the beauty of a diamond ever be fully appreciated? 2nd Generation Christians must be wary of the sneaky idolatry of newness, that sets aside beautiful, rich, gospel truths for the latest Christian craze. We’d do well to become amazed and awed at the first principles, those precious orthodoxies that form our faith in Christ.   
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and speaker. His latest book is Real, Owning Your Christian Faith. He regularly blogs at and encourages you to follow him on Twitter at @dandarling

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