Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Jesus Without Religion (Or Politics)

Dozens of surveys reveal that most non-Christians are interested in Jesus, but not in Church or Christianity. Most agree that the reason for this growing trend is due to the perception that Christians are all anti-Gay, pro-Republican, and dogmatic about their particular brand of faith.

In light of this, I have been feeling that it might be interesting to create a Meet Up group for unbelievers who are curious about Jesus and interested in learning more about him; what he taught, what his message was, what the Gospel is all about, what the Sermon on the Mount means, and other questions – without having to be coerced into a decision to join a church, or being sold a certain political ideology.

So, in about a week, on July 15, I’ll be hosting “Jesus Without Religion (Or Politics)” for anyone and everyone who wants Jesus without all the usual baggage.

Assuming anyone even shows up to this meeting – and I’m praying at least one person will respond – the basic outline we’ll cover looks like this:

*Are the New Testament documents reliable? [Historical evidence for Jesus].
*Who was/is Jesus? [His birth, early life, family members, enemies, disciples, etc.]
*His Message [The Gospel revealed] and his Parables explained
*The Sermon on the Mount [His Manifesto]
*His influence on the culture; impact on History and the World
*Prophecies fulfilled [What Jesus prophesied and what was prophesied about him]
*His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and did the Resurrection happen?

Now, one unforeseen byproduct of this group has been that I’ve had more Christians sign up for this on MeetUp.com than non-Christians. Since I really, really do NOT want our sessions interrupted with arguments about doctrine, I decided to create a second group called “For Christians Who Want Jesus Without Religion Or Politics” which will start meeting the following week on a different night.

Honestly, I really have no big plans for this group. My guess is that it will be a wildly divergent group of Christians with varying definitions of what our group should be all about.

For example, one person who signed up to the “Jesus Without Religion (Or Politics)” group made a comment to me about how his previous church wouldn’t allow him to teach his pet doctrines, which is not quite what I meant by “Jesus Without Religion”.

I’m very tempted to start off the Christian version of the meeting by declaring that Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat, or a Baptist or a Lutheran, or a Calvinist or an Arminian, or even a “Christian” and see who’s still left after I’m done talking.

To be frank, I was tempted to cancel the Christian meeting all together, but my wonderful wife encouraged me by pointing out that a lot of Christians still don’t understand the Gospel of the Kingdom, or what the Sermon on the Mount is about, or what the Parables mean, or even if the New Testament documents are reliable.

So, I took a step back off the ledge and decided to at least attempt to teach this same material to the Christian group and see what happens.

Please, if you would, pray for me and for both of these meetings. Please pray especially that non-Christians who are interested in learning about Jesus would find the group and show up. Please also pray that the Christians will agree not to come to the first group but stay in the second group. And please also pray that the Christian group won’t turn into a massive argument about doctrine, politics or religion.

I’ll be sure to provide updates as things progress.



Resurrecting Wilberforce said...

Keith, what God has you doing here is fantastic. You certainly have my prayers and I look forward to reading your updates. It is my prayer that many are exposed to the Gospel by your work in this regard. Much love to you brother.

Resurrecting Wilberforce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Done with Religion said...

This is a great idea and I'm not surprised of all the interest. There are a lot of "church" people who are probably just as interested but afraid to show their interest. I certainly will be praying for good results from these groups.

Anonymous said...

I can see why even Christians would be interested, Keith. Most churches I've been in have been negligent in teaching the very issues you want to deal with. But, then again, discipleship seems to be a "lost art" in most assemblies. I do have one question. How are you letting people know about the meetings you are holding, especially for the non-Christians? Will be keeping you in prayer.

Unknown said...

Hi Keith
I live in Tasmania, Australia. I run a small not for profit with a group of friends and we work outside or on the margins of the church. We seek to reach exactly the people you speak of- the unchurched who are drawn to Jesus and disenfranchised Christians. I would be most interested in access to your curriculum for this group. Any chance of sharing it? You could even write a book...
Cheryl D.

Julie said...

God bless you in this endeavor, Keith!

By the way, I'm finally working on the dissertation on worship in Ukrainian simple churches, and your interview with Frank Viola and Neil Cole found its way into my literature review--a really helpful piece for making the connections and distinctions between those two.

I remember the Sunday I got to experience with your church (back in - I think March 2012?) fondly!


Taco Verhoef said...

To bad I'm in the Netherlands, would love to follow your study.

Keith Giles said...

Cheryl, Taco, et al. - I'll be sure to post feedback and updates on these sessions, and I'll also share my notes and curriculum here on the blog. If you'd like me to provide more, please be sure to message me as we go along and I'll be glad to share everything I can.


Taco Verhoef said...

Do you email when you write new posts? I could not find a sing up button on your blog.

Keith Giles said...

Yes, if you view the "Web Version" [not the mobile version] of the blog, there's a sign up on the right-hand side to subscribe to the blog.

Unknown said...

Have you considered putting it on YouTube? If you were to do it make sure your Q&A time is on mic.