The American Discipleship Problem: The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic
Laodicea on a Current Map
Where Did the Title Come From?
I have found that when people find out the title of the book, many are simply curious as to where I got the idea. So, what follows is a brief excerpt from Chapter 1 of my book, The American Discipleship Problem: The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic, on where the title came from.
The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic” was the term I came up with in July 2011 while in a class called “Teaching & Learning in the Church”. I had an assignment that involved coming up with a lesson, developing it, and teaching it to a ‘live audience’. It was the beginning of something that I only thought would be an assignment for class; however, it developed into a full-fledged passion that has carried me here.
God has a way of using various things in our lives to show us what we need to do. This was one for me. It turned from an assignment for class into a sermon series on the seven churches in Revelation (visit my website for more on this series). Obviously the sermon on the church in Laodicea was entitled the same as my assignment was: “The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic”.
God’s providence is nothing short of amazing. The drama going on at the church I was ministering to at that time further enabled me to develop this idea of a Lukewarm Christian Epidemic. I realized that this was not just a problem in the church I was serving, but it was a problem that had been in most churches I had been a part of to that point. Some situations were more drastic than others, but nonetheless, the problem was there; epidemic? Even that word pales in comparison to what I saw going on then and what continues to go on now.
God has been amazing on this journey. Not only did He show me that there was a problem within my own heart with being lukewarm, but this was an American Church problem. Of course, not every church or everyone fits this. It cannot be said of them all. However, being lukewarm was a problem so widespread in American that it was heading to a point of no return, which, quite frankly, is scary considering the text of Revelation 3:14-21:
14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea:
“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. 21 The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Problem and Solution
Many of us are lukewarm in a particular area of our lives. Many of us know people who are lukewarm. We all can be a bit lazy you know. We are a culture of "instant gratification". We want to have the most success we can have with the least amount of work possible. When we go after things, we want them now, not later. Considering God's timing is usually an afterthought.
In the aftermath of what God showed me, He also laid out the solution too. He gave sermons, direction, guidance, mentors, counselors and answers from any and all directions. While there are two sides to every coin, this particular answer can only be one of a kind. Discipleship. And that is what the book lays out. Problem, analysis of the problem, and a solution.
Not only did God lay out this book, but a series of books based on this idea. Christianity 101 and The Church's Role, are both upcoming books after The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic is released. Both books a necessity on how we should function. Denominations, internal arguments within Christianity and ugly confrontations are not what Christ had in mind in John 17. If we truly take Scripture as God's Word, then all of the answers on how to function as a Christian and as a church are present. Not only that, but in an ever changing world and American culture, we must figure out how to return to the thriving 1st Century Church model.
You see, when a church like Laodicea is confronted with an issue, God says there is always a way back. Allow me to remind you of Revelation 3:19-21:
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committedand repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. 21 The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
God told the Laodicean people there was a way back. That means that America also has a way back and it rests on the shoulders of the Christians who live here. We have a responsibility to commit and repent of our lazy, lukewarm ways. The road will be difficult, fraught with persecution, hard times and people downright hating us for what we stand for. However, a close, fulfilling relationship with God awaits as well as the many that can be saved from an eternity in Hell. I believe The American Discipleship Problem series can be a tool to help people understand. Will the aftermath be destruction or discipleship? Only time will tell...
I leave you for now with the back cover description of the book.
The Back Cover Description
Today I am reminded more than ever that churches all across the country are closing and facing the great precipice of making decisions that will either carry them over edge into closure, or back up the hill in repentance – all because the love of many grow cold in a world where we focus more on the bottom line and keeping doors open rather than reaching real, lost people in a real and very lost world. If we do not repent of our ways to follow God and His will, then we face the very real possibility that our lampstand will be removed from its place. Read the book of Ephesians and then Revelation 2:1-7 & 3:14-21. You'll find very interesting stories of churches who "lost their first love" and became “lukewarm”. This isn't just one or two churches in Scripture. They are written in Scripture as examples of what can happen to us if we are not careful. And honestly, this is a wider problem today than we realize. We’ve become the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea. It’s why I’ve titled my book, “The American Discipleship Problem: The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic".
Have you lost your first love? Are you a lukewarm Christian? What if you don’t know? How can you tell if this is you? It is our job as individuals and as the wider Body of Christ to pass on what we’ve learned – and so, we shed some light on this growing epidemic. It begins by asking the question: What is The American Discipleship Problem?
The American Discipleship Problem: The Lukewarm Christian Epidemic is a book written by Ryan Bordner, due out in the Fall of 2015. Look for it on Amazon.com, on his website, or right here on Hubpages for a link to purchase the book.
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© 2015 Ryan Bordner