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Beware of Professional Christians

How does a local church flourish, by building the Kingdom of God or by offering a cafeteria of amenities to its surrounding community? Pastor Dan Reiland warns of appeasing cultural or consumer Christians, instead calling for bold and courageous leadership.

At Crossroads, we pray what can seem like a strange prayer. We pray that God does not send Christians to our church. Before you yell “heresy” and push your delete key, keep reading. We have such a passion to reach the un-churched that we don’t want to fill up the limited space we have with Christians who are looking for a new church to attend.

I have been asked: “How can you pray such a prayer?” “Do you turn away followers of Christ?” Of course we don’t. We don’t turn anyone away. We don’t have our parking lot attendants “carding” people, asking if they are Christians and turning them away. It’s easy to pray such a prayer when your heart is hot to reach people far from God.

We pray also for a second group. We pray for Christians to come who are nominal in their faith. We would love for the majority to be non-Christians, but particularly in the Southeast, that is not our reality; there are many who have some church background and consider themselves Christians even though their lives give no evidence. (Don’t go theological on me, stay practical here.)

We pray for a third group to attend. We pray that the Christians that do come are leaders who are ready to serve. For these believers we are most grateful. We ask God to make this a small but powerful percentage of new people.

All church leaders are tempted to cater to Christians who come in with obvious local church experience. You want to grow your church. You need to increase revenue.

If we must choose who we offend (though it is not our desire to offend anyone), we will offend Christians, not the un-churched. If we offend anyone, we are most likely to offend what I call “Professional Christians.” Professional Christians are believers, but have no intention to roll up their sleeves and serve. They are looking, in contrast, for a church to feed them, meet their needs, serve their schedules, and offer many of the latest and coolest programs in town. If you felt a little heat there, it is intentional. The consumer mindset in the local church is killing us.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2019

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). Twitter: @DanReiland

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