In the video below, Dallas Willard talked about how the biggest danger to Christianity is the attitude that it is a statement of belief rather than a life of discipleship. I was particularly struck by his comments about pastors being accused of “bait and switch” when they try to do intentional discipleship. I have heard similar comments from those that are farther along in developing missional communities than we are at Tidelands. Longtime “church” people can struggle with the idea that they are being asked to be part of a group that is focused on following Jesus in all aspects of life. Sometimes our focus on church programs and sunday morning performance results in immature Christians that want to be “fed” rather than disciples capable of leading others in being disciples of Jesus.
Perhaps this is why I often get quizzical reactions from other Christians leaders when I talk about our missional communities. I have even fielded questions asking whether we are a “cult” or a “commune.” Why would a description of people living on mission in their neighborhood result in those kinds of labels? One possibility is that I am simply not being very articulate in describing what we are doing (I’m working on this). The other possibility is that a life of following Jesus as a disciple sounds foreign to them. If the latter is true, it begs the question: what kind of “Christian” doesn’t feel comfortable with discipleship? I believe this is the kind of thing that Dallas is addressing in this video. If discipleship sounds like a “switch” then what is being used as the “bait?” Certainly not the gospel of Jesus!
2 thoughts on “Bait and Switch”
Not all Christians are on the same plane. Some are younger, less mature. Some are hungrier. Sometimes it’s not a one-size-fits-all kinda thing that’s needed.
In my Catholic upbringing, my family treated their faith as central to Sunday church service. The remainder of the week, you probably wouldn’t recognize anything all that different or distinctive about us. This actually repelled me away from traditional, organized church for a time, because it felt passive at best, and hypocritical at worst. After a brief period of questioning and exploring, I discovered some inspiring examples of individuals, even entire churches, who largely reflected the gospel in everyday living, in sharp contrast to the incongruity I observed in my childhood years. My experience is that there is a wide spectrum of believers. Some simply are content to attend Sunday services (and by the way, keep the sermon short, because got things to do). These individuals feel they “get right with God” after a week spent summarily away from Him. Others are willing to give their entire day to God, but have very shallow roots in scripture. Lastly, there are a range of believers who are actively striving to live the gospel (in varying degrees) and share their faith with others on a daily basis. Worship, for that final group, is a way of life, not merely a Sunday morning exercise.