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Posted by clay.collins On May - 16 - 2013

I was talking with a friend of mine who told me about a recent experience in her church.  It was the middle of the worship set and the song had a cool acoustic vibe to it.  She looked around the worship center and saw hundreds of people very into what was happening.  Her eye caught one guy sipping his latte, nodding his head, almost as if he was saying: “This is really cool.  I like this.”  She began to ask herself, “what is going on here?”  Now personally, I don’t think the issue is cool and contemporary worship songs or even the ability to have coffee in the worship center.  The bigger question is, “What type of Christians are being created in this contemporary age of relevent-ism and seeker modeled churches?  There is no doubt that this movement has opened the door for people who otherwise might not step foot inside a church, but is that and should that be the ultimate goal?  Is it our job as the church to package God in a way that fits into people’s everyday lives, or should it be to change lives through the transforming power of the holy spirit?  We have successfully come up with trendy slogans, slick marketing campaigns and killer graphic designs and as a result, many congregations are on the rise.  So why are there so many casual Christians?

According to a study by the Barna Group in 2009, casual Christians make up about 66% of the population in the U.S.  This is by far the largest faith group in America.  The next largest is captive Christians making up 16% and skeptics at 11%.  George Barna defines a casual Christian as one who is middle-of-the-road if not ambivalent regarding their faith.  These are the moderately religious.  They feel good about their spirituality, but they do not prioritize it in their lives.  I remember recently over-hearing a conversation of two women discussing which church they should attend.  One said to the other “I want to be a Christian, but I still want to live my life.  I mean, you know, I still want to drink, party and have a good time”  Now while I understand that part of that statement comes from a misguided view that Christianity is about living a “good”, “moral” and “boring” life, the other part of her statement indicates a general unwillingness to abandon a self centered lifestyle for a more selfless God centered one.

Casual Christianity attracts many because it demands little.  It allows the individual to adopt attractive attributes and become a better employee, husband, wife etc. without having to truly invest themselves.  It, in many ways is like a faith based “self help” program.  Casual Christians are attracted to  “practical” teaching that they can relate and apply to their natural everyday lives, however, they are not likely to be the ones championing the faith or standing up for truth when it counts.  They are believers because it suits them.  It makes them feel good about themselves.  They embrace Christianity because it works for them and they don’t have to change.

The Bible has a lot to say about this sort of Christian.  Revelation 3 states, “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. …”  How about this one from 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”  Or this from Mark 13:35-36, “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.”

It is more than a little sobering to think that two out of three people in America make up a group that God says He will spit out of his mouth.  Mark 13 cautions us about not being asleep when the master returns.  I believe that Christians by the masses are being lulled to sleep by the enemy  and he is effectively using many of our Churches to do it.  This is not intended as an attack on modern day churches, rather a healthy wake up call to examine all of our practices and to put God back into the center seat of authority.  I think, without even realizing it, we have convinced ourselves that we have figured out how to take the gospel to the world through our own understanding and knowledge.  We are taking something supernatural and turning into something natural or tangible.  We sing pretty little lullabies and teach sweet encouraging messages.  Now, a spirit led worship song can be pretty and a God centered message should be encouraging, but when the goal changes from the spirit to the flesh, what results is the flesh not the spirit.  Church leaders in America and the world should look at these statistics and in a healthy way challenge and adjust their values if we truly desire to see a profound change in our world.  One fascinating observation by Barna is that if a catalyst were to be added to the mix, or a deepening of faith, or even an extended sense of community were to develop among the casual Christian group, “unprecedented changes could occur.”  This is something to take note of.  If we could once again walk in our destiny as believers to carry the presence of God and ignite hearts and move into the captive domain, what would that do the nation and the world?  I am not merely talking about political change, but a complete supernatural transformation to captive hearts.

I have recently been given the opportunity to encounter one of these such Christians.  He is not polished.  He is not practiced.  He is not prude or pious.  He is not experienced or “learned” in the faith.  He is not a Pastor in the conventional or vocational sense.  He is merely a man radically and supernaturally changed by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit invading and penetrating his entire being.  At the time of this writing he has been a believer for only one year and in my lifetime, I have not encountered a more inspiring and captivating testmony as his.  I personally watched this man transform before my very eyes and lead his family into salvation and freedom.  He went from a guy coping to survive, to someone thriving in his God given destiny.  He is already actively discipling others in the wake of his own freedom.  His generosity is astounding and has inspired it in others.  His influence has spread way beyond his natural reach.  I observe his life and it shows me who I want to be.  It shows me who I want to lead others into.  It shows me the finished work of the Cross.  What can I possible add or take away from that?  So let’s wake up and smell our church cafe latte’s.  It is time to do the great commission.  Let’s be carriers of God’s presence.  Let us actively hear God’s voice and teach others to do the same.  Let’s gather and connect with others in the faith.  Let’s present the good news in everything we do.  Let’s seek Godly wisdom before earthly wisdom.  It is not our job to help God spread His kingdom on this earth, it is merely to agree and align with what He is already doing.  Let’s strive less and rest more.  Let’s not assume that the wisdom and strategy of yesterday is what God want’s to do today.  The more we trust in God as the source of all wisdom and truth, the more we realize how lacking our own wisdom can be.

Prayer

Lord, speak to my heart.  Tell me something about you that I don’t know.  Tell me something about me that you want me to know.  God, You are awesome!!!  I wan’t your kingdom here.  I want your rules in heaven to be the rules here. What do you want to do today?  I know it’s going to be great.  Tomorrow is going to be even better.  God, help me focus on what is important right now and steer me away from distractions of yesterday and tomorrow.  Lord, I have blown it several times this week.  Please restore me and let the mercy you offer spill out onto the people in my life.  I know you will protect me from every bad thing.  I commit my life to you and trust you with the details.  I will do what you ask, so ask away.  Thanks for finding me.  I love you.

 

Reference: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/13-culture/268-casual-christians-and-the-future-of-america

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