Networking to Wake Up a Spiritually Sleepy Nation

 The moral and spiritual situation of America seems to have hit an all-time low, especially if you haven’t lived for all time (i.e., for all of us).  Marriage disappears as births out of wedlock predominate.  Divorce puts an end to half of marriages.  Pornography and foul language proliferate, even among our national leaders.  Corruption in our society runs rampant.  Church attendance continues to slide.  Historic denominations not only lose members, but drive them away by taking unbiblical, unorthodox doctrinal and moral stands.  The church unquestionably needs a revival and the society needs an awakening.

Nevertheless, the idea that we face an all-time low in faith bears further consideration.  Recently a friend of mine facebooked the following quote from J. Edwin Orr, a greatest historian of revival:

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic … Profanity was of the most shocking kind. … Women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

 What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness … The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The … Episcopal Bishop of New York … quit functioning… The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote …  that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.” 

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth … They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret … and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

  In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.”–J. Edwin Orr (see http://www.jedwinorr.com)

One of the most powerful functions of the Kingdom Net (what I call the global network of people who submit to Christ’s Kingly Rule) involves our ability to call each other to prayer.  God has seen America descend into spiritual chaos and sinful squalor at several times over our history.  (Remember the Wild West, the Gay ‘90s, the Roaring ‘20s, etc.)  Things have been as bad as they are now, and we can indeed see a new revival of the Church and another Great Awakening in America.

And it can only happen as we use our personal networks to let God’s call to repentence and faith spread.  It does not start with railing accusations of the sin of others.  It starts with personal prayer and repentence.  It starts with our own testimony of renewal.  May it start soon, before the damage goes any further.

As Kingdom networkers, would you join me in repentence, sorrow, and earnest prayer for the awakening of our nation?

For more, see The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013).  Pre-order it in paperback or Kindle editions at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

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TKN Audio: Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen on the Church

The work of the Kingdom of God cannot continue in the world without the church!  In The Kingdom Net, I spent a couple of chapters discussing the role of the church in God’s Kingdom.  Inspired by a conversation I had a few years ago  with the eminent theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, the book discusses the four marks of the church–its oneness, holiness,  catholicity, and apostolicity.

Dr. Kärkkäinen, Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary (http://www.fuller.edu/academics/faculty/veli-matti-karkkainen.aspx) has produced some of the most comprehensive summaries of Christian theology ever published in a multi-volume “theological mapping” project.   One of the world’s best-read and most prolific theologians, he has a great deal to teach us!

In some of my future postings on this blog, I plan to share a series of audios and videos and special features that will reward readers of the book for following the blog and inspire readers of the blog to order the book.  About 78 people are mentioned by name or anonymously in The Kingdom Net, so I will interview many of them to add relevant content here that does not appear in the book.  I don’t want to sell you a book and then end the relationship–I want to help you become a world-class Kingdom Networker.

In the attached audio file, the first of four audio segments, I share in  greater detail my conversation with Dr. Karkkainen.  I know you will learn important and USEFUL things about the Church, as I did.  Just click on the HTMLS button below and enjoy!

The Kingdom Net

In Matthew 13:47-50, Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is like a net . . . ”  My new book, entitled The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus (forthcoming in August, 2013), takes its starting point from there.  In English, we call a metaphorical net a “network.”  The Kingdom of God, like a net, functions as a great network by which God carries out the mission of saving the world.  Good fish and bad are caught up in the Kingdom Net, as God works out the Divine, primordial plan.

The Kingdom Net explores the netlike nature of the the Reign of God.  Including the King Himself–the Lord Jesus Christ–his reign, and those who subject themselves to his kingly Will, the Kingdom of God leverages the relationship of every believer with Christ into a world-wide web (pardon the cliché) of connections.  A Christian anywhere in the world is only one relational step away from every other believer in the world.  We all connect to Jesus directly, and Jesus connects us all to each other by the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.  Just as the Spirit created the Church on the Day of Pentecost, drawing together people from all nations in one holy mission, the Spirit continually creates the Church every day.  One never knows when the Holy Spirit will take advantage of the Kingdom connections to draw God’s people together in saving mission.  The process sometimes works in a linear way, and sometimes it mystically jumps the circuits to connect us to each other.

The mystery involves a strange combination of destiny and the activity of the invisible hand of God.  In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith famously described the global marketplace’s self-regulating behavior in terms of an “invisible hand” that influences people to do things they would not otherwise do to distribute the benefits of the economy.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit, described by Jesus as “the finger of God,” mysteriously works among the Subjects of the Kingdom to weave the vast network of God.

I look forward to sharing more with you about what I’ve learned about The Kingdom Net.  Your personal networking can count for God!