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Which of These 4 Types of Christians is Your Church Producing?

Which of These 4 Types of Christians is Your Church Producing?

Blog Post 36 - Train Tracks (Unsplash photo-1434871619871-1f315a50efba)

Churches should model the behavior they want members to imitate.

Yet as we’ve discussed the past three weeks, few churches are having a continual, relational and meaningful impact in their communities.  Instead, most:

It’s not surprising that church members and attenders have followed suit when it comes to living out the Great Commission, falling into one of four camps:

1.  Passive Christians


Bill hardly misses a Sunday.  He volunteers as a greeter one weekend a month, gives regularly and hosted a small group last year.  By all accounts, Bill’s an active church member.  Considering how busy he is with career and a young kids, he does his fair share.  There’s not much time left over for charity work, nor is that something Bill thinks much about – and it’s not a big emphasis at his church.  However, his pastor does mention inviting people to church pretty frequently and Bill loves his church so he’s done that a few times.  When it comes to evangelism, that’s about as far as Bill typically goes – he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his faith and rarely broaches “religion” with coworkers or friends.

2.  Pensive Christians


Rusty is concerned about where America is headed.  Unlike Bill, he’s not afraid to talk about religion or politics.  As a Christian since the early 1980s he’s watched the country go downhill, increasingly upset as our moral foundation crumbles under the weight of every secular, liberal court decision.  Rusty’s church recently held a ministry fair inviting members to express interest in local causes like hunger relief, the homeless or foster care.  However, what caught Rusty’s eye was the Christian conservative radio ministry asking for support to continue fighting for the values that made our nation great.  Rusty signs up and notices that over 150 others had done so as well, whereas none of the other compassion ministries had more than 20 on their lists.

3.  Private Christians


Stephanie is one of the nicest, most compassionate people at her church.  She’s always there for anyone who’s going through a tough time – a family at church, a neighbor, coworker, friend or even a complete stranger.  In fact, Stephanie is so caring that she would never want to offend anyone.  If she knows that person is a Christian, she’ll talk about her faith and offer to pray for them.  Otherwise, she keeps her personal beliefs to herself because they’re just that – personal.  Her husband, Jeff, is just as kind-hearted, frequently donating money to local charities, but equally reluctant to impose his ideals on others.

4.  Powerful Christians


Unlike Bill, Rusty, Stephanie and Jeff, Tamara isn’t passive, pensive or private – she’s both personable and public.  She’s a disciple, following Jesus’ model of meeting felt needs to open the door to sharing who He is.  Tamara never misses an opportunity to do both, seeing wherever she happens to be at the time as her designated mission field.  She understands she IS the church between Sundays.  Tamara is deeply concerned not only with each person’s welfare in this life but also their assurance of eternal life.  She knows the Great Commission doesn’t stop at a single good deed or the planting of a “seed” – it’s about investing in longer-term relationships.

Which of the 4 are Most Common Today?

Church leaders play a significant role in influencing whether its members are passive, pensive, private or powerful.  Churches today are producing far too many of the first three.  Few churchgoers see themselves as the embodiment of church once they walk out the front door.  They may be active participants in church but they’re not the personification of it outside.  In effect, they’re “customers” of churches who fear most would leave if asked to endure the level of commitment and discipleship required of those entrusted to BE the church all week long.

Yes, Powerful Christians are a rare breed these days, not often sighted in churches that:

  • cater to members, hesitant to challenge them with the reality of what it truly means to live out the Great Commission
  • emphasize serving inside the church continually but offer few chances to reach out to the poor and lost in the community
  • focus more on build an institution than building disciples that “take ground” outside the four walls

Joining a church alone doesn’t make someone a Powerful Christian any more than simply joining a gym makes someone a powerful weightlifter.  Both require hard work and endurance.  Only intensive and extended training will dramatically change their lives.  That’s why a large or growing church isn’t necessarily a healthy church – showing up, serving and giving doesn’t mean a churchgoer will make a difference for Christ between Sundays.  Active church members are not necessarily disciples.  Disciples would never stop at being passive, pensive or private.  Disciples are healthy, impactful, forever changed – in other words, powerful.

Implications for the Future 

Why do so many Christians fall into the first 3 categories?  Why do most no longer have an acute sense of urgency to see the lost saved?  Jesus didn’t intend for churches and the Christian walk to be as comfortable as they are in America today.  Never did He expect His followers to be complacent or content – “consuming” church on Sunday and doing little to serve the Lord Monday through Saturday – while surrounded by the helpless and hopeless.  How many churchgoers realize they’ve stepped into a mission field the second they get back in their cars in the church parking lot?  How many try to win people to Christ and spend time making disciples each and every week?

Unfortunately, many have come to view church as a “safe” place to worship and fellowship, not courageous enough to act and speak in the light of day.  Yet we’re called to live boldly in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to our faith.  Ironically, it is likely our lack of impetus and preparation to be the hands and feet of Christ that have largely precipitated and fueled the attacks on Christianity that have already occurred.

What will happen if churches remain hesitant to challenge members to adopt the level of commitment and courage demanded by Jesus?  How much longer can we remain satisfied with most Christians being passive, pensive or private? 

The road is about to become much more rocky for followers of Jesus Christ.  Only Powerful Christians will be ready for what’s coming next.  We must be ready and willing to take a stand.  But will we?  We’ll discuss those topics more next week…

It’s Your Turn

Which of those four types of Christians is your church primarily producing?


24 Responses

  1. Jim, thanks for a great challenge. This issue stays on my mind quite a bit. Thanks for writing about it.

    I’m not on staff at a church. I’ve been in the church for 28 years, in a number of cities, denominations and churches, but I’ve never seen one where there seems to be an active focus on engaging people at the level of Powerful. Many simply “urge” people to “share their faith” or “speak up” but few actually create an environment where people are given a voice, an opportunity to practice, or even structured learning on how to talk about Jesus without sounding like Billy Graham.

    Are you planning on providing some strategies to help churches build Powerful Christians on this blog?

    1. Mike – Thanks for sharing your thoughts – sounds like you share my deep concern around this topic. Regarding your question, I’m in the 36th week of this weekly blog series – I would recommend going back to some great prior blog posts (particularly those on discipleship and redefining members as the church/”insiders” and the community as the “customer”) where we’ve explored fairly in depth the topic of how churches can build Powerful Christians. I’ll also be digging back into that issue soon on this blog series.

      1. Niech Ci słonko ciepło gra,niech Twój uśmiech długo trwa,nie trać swej wesołej minki,dziś są Twoje ureyiinkz!Wszdstkiogo najlepszego z okazji 6 urodzin

  2. This is excellent! I believe the church in America has been largely ineffective in our society due to the complacency of many who call themselves Christians. We have allowed political correctness to dictate that our faith is to be kept within the four walls of the church. So we comply out of fear. Therefore, the Great Commission has become the Great Omission. May God grant us courage and boldness to reverse this tragic trend so we can once again be the glorious One Nation Under God.

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  3. Why Oh God, Why?

    I cried to the Lord from the depths of my despair,
    God, why am I suffering? Why do you permit it so?
    I pray and pray to You, but You do not respond. I feel alone.
    Abandoned in my troubles. Why oh God? Why my Lord?
    My tears run dry, my spirit low…

    Child! I hear Him say from deep within my heart,
    I love you and have always loved you.
    Your sufferings are not from Me but the enemy,
    Who rules the earth from his dark domain,
    Why do I permit your suffering?

    Would you come to me otherwise?
    Would you pray with such earnest in times so good?
    A war is raging between God and Satan,
    Yet, My church is passive.
    The harvest is plenty but workers are few.

    When will you arise and fight?
    For it is written, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much as to shirk from death.” (Rev. 12:11)

    Put on the armour of God and defeat the enemy,
    His defeat is by the blood of the Lamb and your testimony.
    Arise and fight and be passive no more… I hear Him say.

    Jim, I prayed this and then I found this blog.

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