Energion Publications uses three words for our mission: Educate, Energize, and Empower.
What do we mean by these words? Are they just buzzwords?
The second keyword in our Energion Publications mission is Energize! (See the previous post on Educate!)
All too frequently Christian doctrines or practices are taught with the assumption that the student will know what to do with the material and will put it into practice. But Christianity is not just about knowing. It is also about doing.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not advocating salvation by works. In fact, I believe that the worst possible thing we can do if we want people to be energized is to teach them that they have to attain certain levels of performance in order to gain favor with God.
Indoctrination often also involves creating certain types of behavior that fit the indoctrinator’s view. For example, you are told that you ought to contact a certain number of people with the message of the gospel each week. If you don’t, you are falling down on the job, and perhaps even delaying the second coming of Christ. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world,… and then the end will come!” (Matthew 24:14). So if you aren’t doing the necessary work to proclaim the gospel in all the world, you’re delaying the second coming!
There is nothing quite like this to de-energize people. It is, in fact, coming to understand the grace and the saving power of God through Jesus Christ that motivates us to action and enables us to take action.
So the first word in our mission statement, “educate,” is about learning the information. The second is about bringing that information to life in us.
How can written texts help with this?
One of the most important ways to energize people is to put them in contact with those who are, in fact, energized. Reading a book written by someone who has been led to repentance by God’s kindness and is active in sharing that kindness with others is encouraging. At Energion, we like to publish books that grow out of someone’s experience rather than being a dry recitation of data, however true.
We help energize by building connections. Lone, isolated Christians are very susceptible to discouragement, to deciding that there is nothing they can do. Being in touch with intellectually and spiritually active people helps to energize as well as educate.
Further, books that include practical application important to being energized. Once after I taught about prayer someone approached me and asked: “But what do I do if someone approaches me in the church hall and asks for prayer?”
It was a surprise to me. I hadn’t thought about applying what I had said to a specific situation. People often do not jump from theory to practice, and scholarly writers are especially vulnerable to the temptation to think that once you have woven the theory, your work is done.
Finally, books that are real, that reflect not speeches on high from superior saints, but rather the lessons of real people, with weaknesses like the rest of us help encourage and energize people.
I recall one lady who said she was interested in missions but didn’t feel she could really do anything. The only thing she had heard described as “missions” was going overseas to preach the gospel. In fact, successful missions involve many people, from those who encourage, to those who support financially, those who help plan, those who pray, and yes, those who go.
The work of the church is not completed by the famous evangelists and megachurch pastors. We need to hear from those who are living lives like our own and yet are doing things for the kingdom of God.