Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel, founder of the YouVersion Bible app and Life.Church — one of the the largest online churches in the world — is known for his pointed and pertinent sermons and books.
But despite his innovative ability to digitally connect people to church and scripture, Groeschel, who authored the new book, “Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life,” shared with Faithwire some of his biggest concerns about the state of Christianity today. While the preacher said there’s plenty to be excited about, he also highlighted two issues that have been on his mind of late.
“The consumer mindset of our generation — of all people today — is really, really scary when it comes to the church,” he said, noting that some people will sometimes say they can’t find a church that meets their needs. With that in mind, Groeschel said there’s a lesson Christians must remember.
“As Jesus followers, we are not spiritual consumers, we are spiritual contributors,” he said, detailing his belief that the aforementioned consumer mindset is diametrically opposed to how Christians should be thinking about church. “The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world.”
Groeschel’s second concern might be a bit surprising to some, considering that Life.Church has been on the forefront of leveraging technology to spread the gospel, becoming the first church online to reach 100,000 people. In the end, though, he’s worried about the impact that technology could be having on some peoples’ church experience.
Listen to Groeschel discuss these issues on “The Church Boys” podcast at the 32:30-mark below:
“Now many people are equating church with receiving content, meaning ‘I don’t necesaerily have to go to a building” … and I think we’re missing so much power in the face-to-face interaction,” Groeschel said. “And so I’m asking myself the question, ‘What does continue to draw people together?'”
He added, “People are coming to church far less frequently. … if I’ve only got a person under my influence for an hour, it’s going to be very difficult to help them be spiritually successful in this world today. That’s a real big concern for me.”
Groeschel also discussed his experience with innovation, saying he’s a firm believer that people sometimes must fail quite a bit in order to succeed, citing his own development of the YouVersion Bible app as an example. As it turns out, the initial version of the product was a website that his church almost “killed” due to its lack of popularity.
But, after persisting and launching an app instead of a website, YouVersion skyrocketed, attracting more than 260 million downloads — and counting.
“That was born out of a failure,” Groeschel said. “You have to fail a lot in order to succeed.”
The preacher also discussed his reasons for releasing his new book “Divine Direction,” saying that, over his 26 years of pastoring, the most common question he’s heard is, “How do I know what I’m supposed to do?” Life decisions, Groeschel said, can create a lot of worry and consternation.
“There’s a lot of fear, a lot of difficulty in making decisions and hesitation,” he said. “So, what I wanted to do was really demystify that.”
Groeschel argued that leading a successful life isn’t just about one single decision, but is, instead, the result of hundreds or thousands of really small choices that are made day after day — decisions that lead to big results.
“There’s almost a disconnect today. There’s almost the ability to say, ‘Yeah, I believe in God … but I’m still going to do whatever I want,'” he said. “And if we’re trying to walk in a certain direction and I take one step off of that trajectory over a distance, I’m going to end up a long way from that intended target.”
Groeschel said it’s essential to try and make all life decisions with integrity, and he’s hoping “Divine Direction” helps readers with that essential and life-building quest.
“(The book is) trying to guide the reader into seven decisions that, if we can all make … these faithfully over time, we really get to a great place in life,” he said, adding, though, that Christians are on a continuous journey toward God’s plan for their lives. “We are the result of the decisions we have made in the past.”
Groeschel said that, with so many options in life, millennials, among others, become barraged with options and can sometimes become paralyzed and unable to make a decision at all. In the end, though, he said it’s important to focus more on being the person God wants people to be rather than on actions; he emphasized focusing on the “who” rather than the “do.”
“Who we are, who we’re supposed to be?” Groeschel said. “If you get the “who” right you’ll make the right “do” decisions. So often we’re starting with, ‘What does God want me to do?’ instead of, ‘Who does God want me to become?'”
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