The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle
I thought it sounded like an interesting joint and hypothetical approach to problem solving, so I decided to participate.
Here is the scenario being discussed:
Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.
One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.
Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.
Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.
Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.
Recently Fielding asked this question:
When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)
Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.
Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.
Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?
My answer: I would turn to the Scriptures.
You don’t have to be surrounded by Christians to be a Christian. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there also. The eunuch in Acts 8 was likely going to be the only Christian around for a while, yet he went on his way rejoicing.
While you do have to have some basic knowledge of Christ to become a believer (because faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God according to Romans 10:17), you must still continue learning after becoming a Christian. Matthew 28:19-20 records Jesus telling the apostles to do the following 1) go 2) make disciples 3) baptize 4) teach. Note that teaching is listed after someone is made a disciple or baptized. 1 Peter 2:2 says that we should crave the pure milk of the word as spiritual babes.
I guess my advice would essentially boil down to “don’t get discouraged and read your Bible for guidance and encouragement.”