We’re producing a generation of spiritual dwarfs. Many in the church are going through the motions, but their faith lacks vibrancy, exuberance, life and contagion.

They may be saying the right stuff. Doing the right stuff. But missing the main thing.

Yesterday I met a man who gets it. He introduced me to an empty chair. At least, it seemed empty. By the way, this guy’s name is not Clint Eastwood.

His name is Wally Armstrong. He’s a PGA golfer, author, and friend of Jesus. He just finished a book called Practicing the Presence of Jesus.

He explained how individuals and churches so often miss the main thing–a true friendship with Jesus. He said, “Either we are caught up in a flurry of performance as we try to live the Christian life in service, or we set our minds on acquiring more knowledge in the hope that with wisdom we will gain holiness. Of course, both of these paths leave us empty, because we’ve overlooked what Jesus came to give us.”

Armstrong described how, after spending decades hearing about Jesus in church, he chose to look at Jesus in a fresh new way. He chose to imagine Jesus as a present, contemporary friend–a companion. He pictured Jesus sitting in a chair beside him.

It transformed his prayer life and his entire relationship with Jesus.  He positioned an empty chair in his den. “I began picturing my Friend sitting across from me in the chair and myself talking to him,” he said. The chair experiment, as he calls it, helped to bring him “into the fullness of life and the companionship Jesus had always promised.”

This is the Jesus we’re missing. This is the dimension of faith we’re ignoring.

Our ministry methodology so often camps only on teaching about Jesus, drilling on biblical facts, and parsing theological nuances. Or, we concentrate only on coaxing our people to work–volunteering at church, serving in the community, doing good deeds.

Please understand. Knowledge is good. Service is good. But these are not the essence of faith.

Faith is not an academic subject. Faith is not a list of DOs and DON’Ts.

Faith is a relationship. A friendship. A companionship.

Maybe it’s time to pull up a chair.