Not too many years ago, you could assume certain things about a person raised in a Judeo-Christian culture. Of those days, Tim Keller says, “There was so much background we assumed the culture did for us that discipleship was almost like a finishing school. Now you can’t assume that kids coming up have any of the basic intellectual furniture of even believing in an absolute right and wrong.”
TGC Council members Tim Keller, Don Carson, and Stephen Um sat down to talk about what we may not realize is missing from catechesis and discipleship in our day. Carson points out the individualistic perspective in many of our spiritual-formation efforts: “In the Western world, when we do discipleship it tends to be very privatized to build up individual confidence in Christ (which is a good thing) and individual self-examination (which is a good thing), but it’s relatively shallow thinking about the church, about relationships.” Keller sees a need for the church to disciple holistically: “I don’t think you can just have a class anymore. You actually have to think of every single thing you do in the church as formative, everything—your worship service, the preaching—it’s going to take everything.”
All three men agree that Acts 17 provides a good model for the groundwork that must be laid in order to do spiritual formation in our day. We must be prepared for longer processes, more patience, and more deliberateness.