So I am reading a book called How to Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little. One of the chapters is on the 3 kinds of faith. I thought his definitions of these kinds of faith would be helpful to assist us all in understanding the actions of many in our church and perhaps even ourselves.
Witnessing is often a difficult task due to our many possible hang ups. We may feel ill prepared or too shy to speak. We may fear the process itself. But what if the issue is something even deeper? What if it is not so much any of those issues but more of a spiritual issue on our part.
Little introduces the term ‘environmental’ faith. Some of us were raised in a Christian environment and went to church every time the doors were open. Christianity is what we ‘did’ . But what if our Christianity was not based on a relationship? What if we simply were indoctrinated into the lingo and mannerisms of Christianity? We sing all the right Christian songs and attend all the right Bible studies. We have that check list taken care of. Little calls this ”indoctrination faith. They have the right information just not the relationship.
Little speaks of his son at age four skipping through the house singing “I’m happy all day long because Jesus is my friend.” He knew that the meaning of some of those songs escaped his young son. Little continues to say that sometimes we sing truths that are not our own. Sometimes that continues into adulthood. We can’t ooze into Christianity by simple exposure to it. We expose people to the truth. That is our commission. But it has to move beyond exposure to conviction.
The second type is similar to the first. Little calls this one ‘conformity faith’. In this case external pressure is the motivator. We seek to make our family happy by going to church or youth group. We sing in the choir or help with the children’s ministry. We conform to the expectations of our environment. But what happens when the environment changes? Maybe this is why over 70% of our young people leave the church when they leave the environment of home and church and enter the university.
Speaking of hymns, Little states that hymns often make liars of us all. We so often sing the words without the commitment to what is being sung. We are trained so well in conformity.
Little instructs us to ask ourselves one powerfully revealing question. “Is there anything in my life that can be explained only because of God Himself? Or is everything that has happened to me due to my background, surroundings, and present circumstances?”
Wow! What a question! What he is prompting us to consider is if we have experienced a transformation moment brought on by a relationship with God Himself or are we simply playing a role.
The third faith is ‘commitment faith’. This is the faith that is more than giving assent to some facts. It is genuine faith. It is not momentarily fulfilling an expected role. It is transformational.
So if you struggle in your ‘desire’ to witness of Christ, then please check your faith. You can’t ooze into Christianity. You have to step into it whole- heartedly.