There is a myth in the American Christian church that says, “I can be my own Christian, walking my own path.” There is no need to confide in people, because they will only hurt and betray. As a pastor, I’ve seen people come and go from the church because of an offense they’ve picked up somewhere. Usually the reason someone leaves a church has nothing to do with the church, it’s something they’ve carried with them, from another church, the moment they became a 1st time attendee at ours.
It’s sad to think the average person leaves a church because of an offense. Isn’t that what we do in the world? Our boss betrays us; a co-worker says something mean everyday; a customer yells at us, and when it all comes to a head we then begin looking for new work. There is no such thing as loyalty any longer in the American mind. Everything is throw away. Think about it. Do you save the plastic bottles that once held water? Of course not, we have a consumer mentality.
The reality is, that same consumer mentality has snuck it’s way into the church, and we behave and act the same way. If this congregation and pastor don’t meet my needs any longer that’s okay, there are a hundred other churches to choose from. We throw away our church because that’s the way our minds have been conditioned to think. We toss out our church family like garbage because they simply don’t meet our needs any longer. What has become of the true Christ-Followers? There are days I don’t like to associate myself with Christians. In fact, I like to say; “I am not a Christian.” I realize this may sound foreign to most reading, but if you give me the next couple minutes, I’ll explain why.
I just returned from our Annual Harvest Network International summer conference. We had author Lee Grady as our guest speaker. Lee is the former editor in chief of Charisma Magazine. He is also one of the most humble men you’ll ever meet. The conference theme this year was on DISCIPLESHIP; a theme that has been absent in the church for quite some time. We spent a lot of time on this subject.
“God is wanting to download a new application update into our spiritual iPad – because we cannot afford to keep doing church as we have been over the past several decades.” Lee Grady said, as he opened the conference topic. The season we’re in right now, where God is shaking his people, is evident all around us. The sad reality is, most are missing what God is saying because they are stuck in a consumer throwaway church mentality. Their eyes are closed to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
2 Timothy 2:2; “To Timothy, my dear son; Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you called someone your son? It sounds funny, but let’s think about it. Paul and Timothy were close. They ate together, fellowshipped together, traveled, drank together, and slept together (though not in the same bed). Paul was imparting in to Timothy’s life. He became a spiritual father to Timothy. What is the Holy Spirit saying to the church? Because people are attending church and warming a seat, does not make them a disciple of Jesus or anyone else. Too many Christians in the church today hop around like rabbits seeking the next carrot fix because they need their Holy Spirit fix. I call those people the addicted to an emotional high feeling Christians.
People beget people who beget disciples who imitate the one they follow. We are called to live differently. It’s time to stop complaining about why my needs aren’t being met and begin asking the Holy Spirit what He’s doing in the church. God is calling out leaders to begin rising up baby Christians into mature and strong Christ-Followers. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7; “We were not looking for praise from men not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.”
Lee said, “God is beginning to tear things down within the American Christian Church and it will become about people, not celebrity and consumer.” In other words, it is no longer about the me, myself and I crowd. We are called to live differently because we are servants of the King of kings. We must begin to tear down our pride and ego and being to inspire people by our humility. If something goes against the Word of God, don’t argue your cause because you simply don’t like the way the Bible states it. Lay down your pride. That’s what Jesus is calling us to do. We are to be building the Kingdom of God, and if we continue in a consumer mindset we are destroying the very thing Christ wants to build.
How are you building? Who are you imparting spiritual truth into? We must first realize that we are servants: nothing more and nothing less. Because we have been bought with the price of Jesus giving His life, should we not want to help other’s know that same salvation? But what do we do once someone has received Christ? I’ve seen too many young Christians grow up living on milk and becoming weak in their faith. No one has given them the ability to learn, grow and become strong. This, I believe, is one of the defining factors behind the consumer mindset the American Church has developed.
God is calling us to build a horizontal church; a church that is about people building outwards into their communities. What makes a disciple? Is it simply going to church or simply being a Christian? Absolutely Not! Getting saved and going to church does not make you a disciple any more than putting a car in a garage makes your car a car. Does that phrase sound similar yet different? It should.
A garage doesn’t make a car a car. A car is who it is because it is designed, built, cared for, worked on and changed on the inside and out to function as a car. We are not disciples simply by being a Christian and going to church. What makes someone a disciple is they have been taken under the wing of a spiritual father/mother, a more mature believer in Jesus. That individual is worked on, cared for, built up by and changed on the inside and out to function as a disciple to be more like Jesus.
Jesus said in Matthew 20:26-28; “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He is telling us that it is not about us, it’s about Him! I am not a Christian because I am not a typical American Christian. It’s time to change our thinking and our mindset. We are not called to be consumers in the church, but rather we are called to serve one another with love and care.
Who is your spiritual son/daughter; Timothy? Who are you investing in? We are called to duplicate ourselves as we have duplicated our mentor who has duplicated Christ. Remember what I said earlier? Because people are warming seats does not make them disciples. People beget people who beget disciples who imitate the one they follow. Who are you following; who is your Paul? Who do you have coffee with on a regular basis? Are they imparting into your life? Jesus is calling us to make disciples not crowds by building relationships, not consumers so that we can inspire humility into someone not building their ego. That is why I am not a Christian and I am a Christ-Follower who is a disciple.
J. B. Sisam