Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury -- http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .

RESPONSES ... to W.W.J.D. Fade-out

The column pondered the rapid fade-out of the W.W.J.D bracelets wondering aloud about the difference between knowing what Jesus would do and being able to actually do it. The questions posed was: What has to change to actually disciple people in obedience, not just knowledge? A sampling of the blizzard of replies:

From: "Blevins, Dean" (DBlevins@eden.trevecca.edu)
1) Those marketing the W.W.J.D. bracelets probably forgot to read Charles Sheldon's book in full.... or else they never would have made it into such a marketing scheme (the bracelets were ok until we had a W.W.J.D. monogram hat, jacket, Bible cover, t-shirt, polo shirt, devotional book, handkerchief, scarf, socks, tapes, underwear, etc. etc. etc.) In short, we forgot to do discipleship because we were too busy making money off the concept.

2) Because of #1 it did not take youth long to spot what had been a discipleship movement becoming another version of the NIKE swoosh..... a product to be sold rather than a movement to be followed.

3) I am not opposed to fads for youth, particularly healthy ones. Fads do serve a purpose for adolescence in the ways that youth eliminate some choices to concentrate on others during a period of "storm & stress." The problem was that marketing the fad communicated that it was just that, something to do (if done at all) for a short period of time. Discipleship then becomes a consumer option, not a course of life.

In spite of the critique, I do think we should be amazed and grateful at the grace that did and does continue to come through W.W.J.D. in spite of our consumer appetite. More and more I am surprised by what God chooses to do through our shabby efforts (which is why it is grace, I suppose). I suspect something else will come along to replace this movement. Who knows, it might even be C.H.U.R.C.H. ! --Dean Blevins Trevecca Nazarene University

From: Bud Bence (bbence@dorcas.indwes.edu)
Your explanation for the rapid decline of the W.W.J.D bracelets is that people focused on knowing rather than on doing. I might suggest the problem was too quickly focusing on doing without a deeper knowing of the mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5). The WWJD bracelets assume that one can rather quickly discern what is the right thing to do in any situation by simply imagining Jesus in the same situation and following his (hypothetical) example. That is also the flaw of classical liberalism...Jesus always does what a decent religious person with a little common sense would do. Both falsely assume it is a no-brainer to figure it out.

But doing what Jesus would do takes intense commitment to the teaching of and the teachings about Christ. Only when the mind of Christ is deeply instilled in the believer can he/she walk into new situations with sufficient insight to follow the Master. If following Jesus is simply doing what any good person would do, I don't need a bracelet to accomplish that. If following Jesus is so complicated that no one could ever figure it out, then a bracelet reminder wouldn't help me either. We often assume that knowing and doing what Jesus would do is easy...and it's not. It takes both spiritual insight and (your point)deep commitment to pull it off. --Dr. Bud Bence Indiana Wesleyan University

From: Al Soultz (asoultz@huntington.in.us)
There really is no way to disciple people in obedience. Obedience is not knowledge, it is an attitude. Some people are obedient even without the cognitive. Some children are taught that if mom or dad says to do something, even though the may not fully understand, they do it. This can only be by allowing your will to be to the will of the parent. Obviously we can draw the connection with our heavenly Father. I also don't think that Jesus would need to be reminded as to ask WWJD. He would just do it, and so must we. Our desire should be to follow Christ and do his will no matter what.

From: Anthony Rockliffe (tonyr@samsung.co.za)
I never became a part of the WWJD movement, I agree with the principle and try to apply it but I thought it was just a Christian fashion fad. Obedience is so much more than thinking very hard what Jesus would do in a situation and then doing it. --Anthony.

From:-Dave Leitzel (bmedows@comtek.com)
Paul tells Timothy to "train himself to be godly." John Ortberg points out that the word he did not use was TRY .. he doesn't tell him to TRY to be godly. What's the difference between training and trying? I could listen to the experts who tell me I need to take off some weight ... need to get in better shape. That doing all that would enrich and lengthen my life. I can listen to runners talk about the runner's high ... and start to think, "You know, I should do that." So I decide to run a marathon. I get up and head outside ...Marathon, huh? 26 miles ... OK ... I will try. And I do. I run as hard as I can ... about 30 yards for me ... and my lungs explode with fire. I stop ... gasping. Then try again. And again. And then quit. I head back in discouraged. I have failed.

But if I had (instead) trained. What would that look like? It means that I WILL run a marathon .. but between now and the marathon comes ... maybe new shoes, the right clothes ... a new diet ... a lot of sit-ups ... some shorter races ... stretching. Training is finding the practices I can PRESENTLY do that will enable me to do what I eventually want to do. If the WWJD bracelets are on their way out ... its probably because people TRIED to do it ... and didn't TRAIN to do it. --Dave Leitzel (with lots of ideas borrowed from John Ortberg)

From: "Brad Harris" (john330@tir.com)
The part I don't agree with is the fade-out. Late last fall on the news they had a report on the W.W.J.D. bracelet. They talked about how this W.W.J.D bracelet craze is sweeping the nation in every High School across America. What is incredible to think about is that in the Mall in Saginaw, MI there are clothing stores that sell the W.W.J.D bracelet. The push is bigger than ever in the Christian Book Stories and magazines with the W.W.J.D. bracelets, Devotional guides, Key rings, Paper weights, Pens, T-shirts, Coffee Mugs, and etc... What was incredible to think about, is that I did a survey with teens in my Student Ministries if there were students at the High School and Middle School wearing the bracelet just because everyone else is wearing it. It was wild to hear their response to that question. Each student stated that non-Christian students were wearing the bracelets and didn't even know what W.W.J.D. meant.

So, my concern is also, can the W.W.J.D. bracelet become something that people just get used to? Has the W.W.J.D. become just a fad? Have the W.W.J.D. become something just because everyone else is wearing it? Could there be a possibility that people wearing the W.W.J.D. don't realize what that question could do in their life?

From: Bruce Moyer (cbcrmoyer@scioto.net)
The answer seems obvious for all who study the Word. A COMPLETE and thorough change (yes, a cleansing) of the heart is the only way to DO what Jesus would do. Jesus made it clear (Mark 7:21-23) that what we do in the form of actions is a direct result of what we are deep in our hearts. Paul's testimony in Romans 7 is also clear -- we might know what Jesus did, and wants us to do, but without a thorough cleansing and filling that changes the "bent to sin" to a "bent toward righteousness" we are doomed to knowledge alone and eventually the discouragement that leads us to slip the bracelet off. --Bruce Moyer

From: marionbrown@juno.com (Charles M Brown)
... I see the problem of the fading W.W.J.D. phenomena as another evidence that many who name the name of Christ know little or nothing concerning the New Birth. We, as Ambassadors of Christ have a BIG problem, which will only be solved in the secret place... I sincerely believe that a return to original Wesleyan Doctrine in at the heart of any future Awakening... --Marion Brown

From: Charles Shores (chuckandjan@home.com)
It seems to me that a major problem with the WWJD fading fad is that it asks the wrong question, "What would Jesus do?" Jesus, Son of God, King of kings, Messiah I'm not. And His Person and job description do not often fit well with my person and tasks. I'm afraid some earnest Christians on the short side of maturity have asked that question and then proceeded in Messiah-like fashion to cleanse their local temples when they ought to have merely washed a window or two. No, a more appropriate question might be, "What would Jesus HAVE ME TO do?" That puts it where I live, with what I am supposed to do in my situation as His follower.

All things considered (especially Romans 6, 7 & 8), the proper question probably is, "What would Jesus have me to do through the Spirit of life?" But that makes a long bracelet: WWJHMTOTTSOL! (It beats out Basic Youth Conflicts' PBPWM,GIFWMY by one letter!) --Chuck Shores

From: Huntley (Huntley@aol.com)
A lot of people just belive and be saved, they forget that Jesus says to take up their cross and follow me or if you Love me, Keep my commandments. Without commitment you don't practice what you preach.

From: "Dawain Jones" (djones@svs.net)
I think that part of the problem lies with the fact that I'm not seeing as the scriptures teach, for the older saints to teach and train the younger. I as a pastor am hearing more often than ever, "We older folk just don't understand those young kids." The baton of a disciplined Christ centered life is not being passed as readily as it might if the older saints would dive right in and train the younger. --Jeff Jones

From: "Eugene A. Glendenning Ph.D." (velgene@fairfieldi.com)
The well disciplined Christian question is not ,"What would Jesus Do". The question is "What can I do in this setting to glorify God?" A more painful question, Is the failure of people to be obedience a sign that we pastors are not good disciplinarians? Are we strong disciplinarians? --E.A. Glendenning Ph.D.

From: Gary Bittner (garyb@supra-products.com)
...too many believers are still trying to 'make fruit' when Jesus never called us to be fruit makers, only fruit hangers, with fruit is merely being an outward manifestation of the inner working of the Spirit. So, as long as we continue to try to 'make fruit' rather than just display the fruit He is bringing about within us we will continue to be frustrated and worn out, and yes, give up. It's like trying to live 'the manual' without Emanuel (get it?). You and I can't live the Christian life, but Jesus can live it thru us 'real good!' Which leads me to my second point...a lot of us could use some new understanding that the Christian life is not about 'self-improvement', it's about a resurrection (a new life)! Pastor Gary B. Salem, OR

From: (Russ Gunsalus) gunsalur@wesleyan.org
I am sure all of your Tuesday Columns are in some sense, "from your heart." But it was clear that this one was straight out of your heart of hearts. Keep on teaching for intra-action and interaction and maybe some day we will trade in a few hours of sit down and listen Christianity for a few hours of stand up and do Christianity. --Russ

From: jsteen1@juno.com
...The W.W.J.D. bracelet was simply a reminder. After the wearer got used to wearing the bracelet, it's use was over. When you've seen the same sign along the road for a month, you no longer notice the sign. Same principle with the bracelets...One must change the heart before true obedience can take place. It isn't what is placed on the wrist, but what is within the heart that will cause obedience. -- Jerry Steen

From: ken (pkburney@comteck.com)
Perhaps the reality of being a human being, (Not unlike those mentioned in the Pastoral Search Report) has hit us, and therefore we throw off our bracelets in frustration. Obedience will only come with constant training. It is a process. Knowing what Jesus would do, doesn't automatically create a "want to" attitude. Often times, We must do things out of a sense of DUTY, until it becomes an automatic response. That is the process. --Ken

From: Kevin Gowen (kgowen@hboc.com)
...I'd have to disagree with your fundamental premise, that is, that knowledge is not the problem. On the contrary, I think it is. Of course, the task of actually doing what you know is also a problem, as you point out, but knowledge must come first.

The WWJD "movement" is just like all the other movements that have sprung forth from American revivalistic Christianity (like the early temperance movement, YFC rallies, Promise Keepers, etc.), that is, it's a mile wide and an inch deep. It's a simplistic attempt to solve complex ethical problems. It was doomed to fail from the outset. And if the WWJD fad is dying, I say: good. -kevin Gowen

From: larry101@juno.com (larry wilson)
Keith . . . open your mind for once and see all the good that technology has done for the Church. We now have the skill to make just about any spiritual endeavor faster and better. Assess your spiritual gift with a "Holy Spirit Mood Ring" ($19.95 plus S & H). Increase the power of your prayer with a "Pet Prayer Rock" ($7.95 or 3 for $22.95). Witness to thousands with an "I Found It!" bumper sticker ($29.95 per dozen). For a complete list of faith increasing products visit . . . www.simon-magus.com ;-) --Larry Wilson

From: "Langdon Montgomery" (langdon@exis.net)
...Unless the Holy Spirit is initiating the work of obedience in us, we will become the most pitiful of men as we make our feeble attempts to imitate Jesus' behavior without the inner power to do so. As Lewis Smedes says: "Before God obligates us, He enables us". -- Langdon Montgomery

From: mattnheidi@juno.com
...better buildings, lesson plans and training will make little or no difference in the arena of obedience. What makes a difference is life-discipleship. Like Jesus, let's leave the "temple" (or church building) and walk around with our disciples. Let's minister side by side with them, teaching them "on the field". I'll bet a couple of hours of letting people see how we live and make decisions will make a difference in how they live and make decisions. -- Matt Furr, New England Christian Community

From: (mswc@adamswells.com)
Is the W.W.J.D. bracelet, watch, necklace, keychain, etc...really necessary? Those who know, and have transformed the knowledge into action, usually don't need a bracelet to remind them. By then obedience is a way of life. --Mark Umfleet

From: mwilson (mwilson@win.bright.net)
"What would Jesus do?", is the wrong question. We ought to be asking, "What will Jesus do?" or "What is Jesus doing right now?" When we ask "What would Jesus do?", we are acting as if Jesus is merely an historical figure -- merely a model of how to live. Although there is truth to this -- the real power of Christianity is in the living, present Lord. His power can make us what we ought to be. We need to walk in the Spirit today. He is active and alive at this very moment. Sadly, many Christians have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. --Mark O. Wilson

From: "Pat & Kit McCartney" (pmccartn@whidbey.net)
Discipling requires involvement. It requires committed relationships. It requires investing our time in others. Not in a "let me tell you what to do" kind of way, but in an unnatural way -- a loving, patient way; a way full of grace. It requires more than "church as pastime" or "church as fashion statement." It can't be mass marketed like bracelets, bumper stickers, bookmarks or CDs. It can't be dispensed from television, radio, print, pulpit or Internet. It has to be lived out, modeled, illustrated and mentored. Luke tells us that the original disciples, all witnesses to the (then) recent events, were told to "stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." We need to appropriate that statement and personalize it. We need the power from on high living in us, enabling us to make disciples the "old fashioned way." It's shameful to think we can do it on our own. And we need to cast that vision to other people, to those who will listen.

From: "Roxi@concov.mv.com" (pop!concov-ro@mercury.mv.net)
When you refer to the "obedience" side of the WWJD phenomenon, you are really talking about Christian formation. In the midst of a rapidly changing culture, I wonder if the tired out models of discipleship that have been all the rage in the late 20th century will have any impact on Generation X? Perhaps the first confession that we should make is there are no guarantees, bracelets, or twelve week Bible memory programs that will ensure we will make it to the end. Rather, Christian Discipleship is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, gut it out for the long-haul proposition. If we concentrate less on the quick fix and talk about the life-long process we wouldn't have to worry about getting on the next discipleship fad that comes our way. -- Bradley J. Bergfalk Concord, New Hampshire

From: SDrudge66 (SDrudge66@aol.com)
The WWJD bracelet movement has not faded. The wearers themselves may be what has faded, as you pointed out.. Every hour brings us new believers to strenthen in their walk. True, you must walk what you know, but I firmly believe that one must know WHAT to walk first.

From: drjzimmer@juno.com (John R Zimmer)
The W.W.J.D. movement is still valid for today if it has the proper foundation based on God's Holiness. Titus: 2:14 "...who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." NKJV See:The Disciplined Life; Richard Shelly Taylor,

From: "Sykes, Jeffrey S." (JSykes@eden.trevecca.edu)
The whole W.W.J.D. campaign seems to be an attempt to sell holiness. "Here by this cute little bracelet and you will be reminded how to behave in every situation. And the same tool can double as a witness to your friends! No discipline necessary!" Holiness is a relationship lived by daily submission to God. Holiness is only possible through the death of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the power of the Spirit, we are doomed to live in Romans Chapter 7. With the power, Romans Chapter 8 is where we live. Just thinking about W.W.J.D. without the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit is a recipe for a life of frustration. Maybe even enough frustration to take off a bracelet. Or give up on a relationship. Funny what those silly Gen Xers will say.... --JS

From: WPBDoc (WPBDoc@aol.com)
Our whole world seems convinced that more "education" will solve all of our ills and that philosophy has permeated the church. Very little ever addresses the dying daily, the willing submission, the walking in the Spirit that involves CHARACTER. Information + Character = Right Actions. --Dan L. Burrell, Ed.D., Senior Pastor Berean Baptist Church West Palm Beach, FL

From: MrBELOVED (MrBELOVED@aol.com)
I don't know about everyone else, but as for me, well, mine is still on, and has been for over a year...dont even take it off for a shower. Maybe for some, it's a fad, but for me, it's a way of truth and of life...both now and forever. Thanks for sharing.

From: "Valued Customer" (humble4@bright.net)
... Maybe the bracelets should say, Holiness unto the Lord! We have a wonderful message of full surrender to God that produces a life of total devotion and discipleship. We have discarded it and ignored it because over the years certain people have distorted or failed to live the experience. .. Maybe we should go back to the ear lobe on the door instead of the bracelet. It would be a little harder to lay aside and ignore. -- Wes Humble

So what do you think?

To contribute to the thinking on this issue e-mail your response to Tuesday@indwes.edu

By Keith Drury, 1997. You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article for non-profit use without permission.