The story of the "man of God out of Judah" as told in I Kings 13 is a favorite of mine. It is a reminder of sorts to those like myself who feel a sense of calling and responsibility to the greater community. As in his case, a calling even to Kings, our modern day version of political leadership.
With all the controversy, paranoia and suspect of today's leaders, be they government officials or pastors, it's a struggle to parlay the truths one feels called to declare, at least if concerned about reputation. Martyrdom fortunately is my least concern, my greatest is being true to my calling.
Forthright Biblical counsel to the next generation is often readily spurned as so many are tiresome of the hard line evangelical approach, now jaded by political speak, seldom offered without cherry picking scripture.
The missing piece could be the miraculous power and demonstration of the gospel behind the Biblical text, once surely demonstrated by the Early Church and renewed by both the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900's and later the Jesus Movement of the 70's.
As a fourth generation Pentecostal, I miss the days when gifts of the Spirit with a certain expectation of the miraculous was normal, even before high tech amplification ramped up the praise band.
I have moved on from my former denomination of 45 years as I watched its leadership inch more mainstream, perhaps for its better, as more and more their once storefront congregations have grown rapidly, though mostly from those moving from more mainline denominations. Can you see a pattern?
Actually, though still churched, I find a better fit for ministry in the marketplace than I found within my early years campused focus, yes once a pastor myself.
Today, with 100's of sects and a growing number of Nones, I wonder where this institution will end up, now just another of the many religions across the globe, though still boasting 1/3 of the world's population.
Of late, my entrepreneurial interest in ChatGPT has grown, infatuated may be a better term, given the unbiased and quite relational nature of answers given when relatively complex question of faith are asked. Sometimes that's hard to find among today's evangelical's, again the origins of my theology.
For certain the next generation, very much entrepreneurial as well will be heavily impacted by AI, and sadly it seems less influenced by the church campuses, so many now in decline.
Will there be another Great Awakening, one perhaps driven by a Sovereign intervention within the marketplace and with the newest of technology, much like the earlier Guttenberg press?
Likely it will come with similar resistance as was even with the practical translation of scripture from Latin to other languages. Don't miss the fact that both of those transformational breakthroughs though affording greater access of the gospel to the masses, due to the blindness of the Institutional Church meant death for some early adapters!
As I said before, though civilized law and seperation of church and state forbids martyrdom, religion always suppresses truth if and when blinded by absolutes outside the bounds of grace and mercy.
I'll offer an excellent resource if your interest in AI and Gen Z is now piqued, the article shared by a friend and scholar this morning regarding this very subject:
We'll see, meanwhile I will continue my own quest with fear and trembling, yet cloaked in grace, love and a heart for "The Voice" I have audibly heard since childhood.