Spectators, Shoppers and Servers


Many of you do not know this, but I’m fairly skilled at failure.

I know, I know. It’s kinda like someone saying they are proud of their humility, but hear me out. Nearly EVERYTHING I’ve learned about planting and growing a church has been via the belly flop rather than the attempted (and achieved) beautiful, full gainer with a double somersault and a one and a half twist with a degree of difficulty off the scale. In English, I failed…A LOT.

In those days there were 3 types of Christians coming as well as an infinite variety of unchurched. But, today I realize that one simple shift has been more major in the recent growth and title wave of transformed lives than perhaps a whole lot of “commonly credited culprits” ever were.

It has to do with identifying and weeding out 2 out of the 3 types of Christians I mentioned earlier (Shoppers, Servers and Spectators). It’s pretty easy to identify the 2 biblically dysfunctional types in that small pile, but you might want to hear my quick identification before placing your name right under Mother Teresa.

Let’s take them in order. First, the shoppers. I can still remember the first time I actually heard someone (a father, standing there after church with his wife and 2 kids) use the term shopping in a sentence with church. He told me (while his entire family looked on, beaming with pride) that they had been shopping for a church for over a year. They had been to nine churches in that one year span of time, but (now don’t miss this) none of them met their needs so they just kept right on shopping. I had this kinda sick feeling in my gut when I heard the church essentially compared to trying to find a car at a used car lot. He went on to say that it looked like our church might really be able to hit every need they had on their rather long checklist. In essence, we were the lucky winner and the prize was a brand new family that would apparently attend faithfully and allow the church to cater to their every whim. Oh boy! I could hardly wait. I remembered asking him about serving and what they believed they should be doing for God’s church, but, because all I received for an answer was his imitation of a deer in the headlights–the implication was clear. “Duh, pastor, you get someone to fill up 4 more seats, you get someone to drink the coffee so that it does not go to waste, and you get (well, you get the idea). Shoppers. The fewer professional church shoppers we get with their consumer Christianity mentality the better off we are.

The second group is the spectators. These are the folks who like everything about the church, people, sermons, music, children and youth programs, everything. But they are more than happy coming to watch the show each week than they are in rolling up their sleeves and lending a hand. They, like the shoppers, rationalize doing nothing in a variety of dysfunctional ways.

a.They don’t need me
b.I’m not sure what my gifts and abilities are
c.I am not that good at stuff so I will leave it to the “pros.”
d.I am more of an exhorter than a doer. My gift is to tell everyone else what they are doing wrong!

And on and on and on. They are spectators in the game of life. But God wants us in the game. He did not call us to be spectators, he wants us living out our faith. Which brings us to the third group; servers

About three years ago SCC really began to take off. What happened? Well, a lot of things, among them was a marked increase in people getting involved in ministry and realizing that as members of God’s own family, we are all automatically ministers as well.

The third group are the servers. You’ve heard me say it many times. What’s more effective, a couple of paid pastors in a church of 2,000 doing all the ministry as well as teaching, etc? Or, more than a thousand ministers in a church of 2,000 doing ministry? Kind of a no-brainer, huh?

If you guessed that the servers were the best kinda Christians to have around, you win a prize (the satisfaction of having guessed correctly).

Now the moment of truth…Which one are you?