Over the past year or so I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating what a church should look like, how it should function and the mission of the church as a whole. Numerous times I have come across materials that speak to the progression of the people of the church and how important it is. One author and pastor went so far as to say that in his church if people weren't progressing he would confront them about it and has ultimately asked people to leave over the issue.
What do I mean by progress? I mean moving people from consumers to followers to doers. This can have all sorts of implications and can look like different things to different people. However, I would imagine most of us would agree that most churches have an issue with people who just want to be consumers and believe that becoming part of a church gets them benefits or what many call Country Club Christians.
Country Club Christians only go to church because of what they can gain, for the fellowship (which isn't always a bad thing) and because it makes them part of the in-crowd. Fortunately, for us, being a Christian doesn't carry as many social "perks" as it once did in our culture. However, there are a great deal of people that still fall into this category.
So, back to progress. Moving people from consumers to followers isn't always that easy. Many pastors try to just speak to the fact and call people to be more than just consumers, but few truly require or push people to become more.
Becoming a follower can look like joining a small group, participating in a Sunday School class, or engaging in a Bible study that requires you to be open about who you are and your walk with God. A follower connects with fellow followers and grows from being a consumer and just attending to being someone willing to grow deeper in their faith and earnestly seek to find what God has called them to in their lives. They become followers of Christ rather than just a consumer of a sermon and worship music.
Once people become followers, it is time to start calling them to leave beyond themselves. People need to progress from just learning and engaging with each other to using their talents and gifts to serve others. It can be challenging to get people to move to this step, because it requires a greater commitment to something other than themselves than either of the other two categories. It asks them to give of their time and possibly money, which many hold so dear.
It is the doers that will bring in more of the consumers and the doers that can set an example and teach people how to be more and how to progress from one stage to the next. Without the progression from one stage to the next the church will end up with a bunch of baby Christians who are still taking a bottle from the pastor. Have you ever seen a 15 year old drinking from a bottle? Talk about awkward. Why then would we allow 15 year old (spiritually) Christians to still drink from a bottle rather than moving them to being the one that hands out bottles to the true baby Christians.
How is your church doing? Does your church have a way to track the progression of people? Does it truly ask people to progress?
Have you ever considered that you will get what you require from people? If you don't require much, you won't get much.