In this post we will look at a new type of Christian that is popping up in many local churches and we will also begin to unpack the traits of these new type of Christians. Actually these Christians are not knew at all because I personally believe they emulate more the early "Followers of the Way."
First, I must address that many of these young Followers are currently frustrated with the current state of Christianity just like the outsiders but instead of leaving the church, they are trying to help the church evolve and in many instances, starting their own churches with great success.
Many of these young leaders and authors are facing great criticism from the traditional church goers as well as those who fear change in the church. The most common criticism I hear is that these young followers are not fully compliant with scripture and they are piece meal Christians. However, I would like to state what peter said in Acts 11:9.
"The voice spoke from heaven a second time, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
We need to be very careful to critique peoples Spirituality and how they live it out, this is one of the main causes for many outsiders to leave the Church. It is possible that God is working in this person in other ways than what we may see or call traditional. I sure Martin Luther was called an unbiblical heretic at the time of the Reformation, but the people could not see God working in him.
However, we must be wise and discerning about these leaders but not judgmental. I am constantly frustrated by Christians who finally get a calling and the courage to act on that calling and then when they begin, they are ridiculed, criticized and crushed not by Satan, but by our very own in the Christian community.
Don't criticize those doing Gods work when we disagree with their style or approach.
Now lets look at the seven traits inherent to these Followers:
1. Intimate Worship and Relationship With God
These Followers believe in private and public worship almost daily. Not necessarily a formal worship service but a praise to God. When they worship, they are God focused.
This may seem rather trivial until you look at some statistics done again by the Barna Group.
According to a poll of Christians meeting the Born Again criteria:
- A majority said that formal church service is the only time they worship God
- 8 out of 10, DO NOT feel connected to God during worship
- Half of all believers say they have not felt connected with God in the last year.
- 25% say that when they worship, God is the primary beneficiary of the worship.
- Most say they are expecting something personally from the experience.
Now, please understand I love an entertaining service with great contemporary music, videos and powerpoint slides but the main focus has to be God focused not man focused. Read Worship Is Not For Our Entertainment for more insight.
2. Faith-Based Conversations
Followers share Gods love, share their experience and relationship with God in positive, compassionate ways to others. Their conduct in everyday life is an example oftheir faith.
Again, research shows:
- Most "Born Agains" will die without ever leading someone else to Christ.
- At any given time, they are not praying for the Salvation of a specific person.
- Most believe that since they are not lay people, they do not know enough, are they are not blessed with the gift of evangelism, it is not their responsibility.
A few years, I seriously considered going to seminary and becoming ordained, until I spoke with a Pastor. The pastor told me that I do not need to go to seminary to share God's word with others and many times having that title makes it harder to share with others because their defenses automatically go up. He told me that I do not need to be perfect, or have the bible memorized but simply to be passionate and share God's love in my unique way with as many people as possible.
3. Spiritual Friendships
Followers have spiritual friendships that involve accountability and mentorship. They consistently seek mentors and friendships that can help them grow spiritually, especially in ways that they are lacking.
You need multiple friends and mentors that are honest, accountable and willing to tell you when you are wrong. For over a year on Legacy Dad, Dante emailed me and constantly challenged me to move forward with this weblog. Not to mention, some other strong Christians who helped me and gave me greater clarity and vision for this ministry. (Thanks Peter B. and Tim K.)
Research shows that of "Born Agains":
- Only 1 in 6 - has a spiritual relationship that involves accountability.
- Any a majority said that significant choices in their life were most influenced by media, family and co-workers rather than teachings or advice from fellow Christians or mentors.
To recap, we have started to take a look at the traits of those Christians who are breaking the mold of the current state of Christianity and hoping to evolve the faith back to its roots. In the next post, The Real Legacy, we will unpack the final 4 traits and then further examine how this growing group of Christian followers views the Church.