One of the frustrating things I feel as a pastor is when people “miss” Jesus. Sure there are bad examples and bad experiences that make people miss Jesus but that’s not what I’m talking about. The people I’m talking about thinkthey have Jesus, but are missing Him. You see, somewhere along the line we came to believe that faith is an add-on, something that people should have in their lives but don’t get too fanatical with, don’t get crazy about it – because we all know what happens when someone goes all in… they inspire people, change the status quo and make an impact… no that’s not what we think. We think those who go all in are weird, marginalized and dismissed. Plus, why go all-in when you get the same thing with little effort or priority (at least that’s what we think)? This is part of the problem. And what I see often with people who have this mindset is they honestly believe they aren’t missing anything. In fact they look around at people who are fully committed to Jesus and wonder why? Did someone not tell them they can have Jesus without commitment? Someone should tell them. This is part of what really saddens me — faith is not the same and the relationship and experience is NOT the same. It’s not just because we should be committed to Jesus but because it’s of infinite worth and value to be committed.
I’m not sure it’s a debate anymore since most churches are trying desperately to maintain effectiveness in a culture that is rapidly becoming less interested in church and even in God. Yet a few years ago there was a debate raging about “seeker sensitive churches” and “believer-oriented churches”. The “seeker” churches were criticized for a lack of spiritual depth and watering down biblical truth so they could reach people. The “believer” churches claimed to gather Christians on the weekends in order to charge them up and send them out to evangelize, yet rarely did those Christians actually share thier faith (at least that was the criticism). I personally find this either/or approach to church to be both unbiblical and unnecessary. I’ve always been an advocate of a third approach which for lack of a better term I call “seasonal ministry”.