What is your church full of? Customers or owners? Let me start with a crisis point in my ministry that helped me to see the issue of lukewarm Christians more clearly.
When I planted a church in Pennsylvania, we started strong, particularly for the North, by growing to 125 the first year. We had 25 people in our core and 100 new people who came over the course of the first year.
But the new 100 people didn’t do anything. They were lukewarm Christians. They were passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God.
And so we recognized we had a cultural problem within the congregation.
Our church was full of customers so there was a culture of non-participation.
People came to be objects of ministry rather than co-laborers on mission. They wanted to be what I could call today “customers of the religious goods and services” distributed by our exciting new church.
And it was killing me.
I spent hour upon hour ministering, calling, working and begging others to do the same. It was not working, as people preferred to receive rather than to give.
So, we began to change the atmosphere to one of expectation that people will serve in ministry.
My motivation was not so complicated. What I tried to do was to shift the culture in my church from passivity to activity.
When new people came into our church, most of them connected to the 100 passive people instead of the 25 active. A bad situation with lukewarm Christians became worse.
So, we took a full year to make a change through preaching, teaching and training.
We realized we had to help people get it, so we did.
We launched an internal campaign that was driven by a compelling question: “How do we shape the value of active service into our people?”
And so over the course I preached messages about serving, we talked about it in small groups and we did a training campaign on it. Finally, we asked the 25 to put positive, gracious peer pressure on the 100.