In a previous post, I mentioned 10 ways to be a nominal Christian. There are some who believe that because Jesus is the way, truth and life, and the only way to the Father that they must wear the name “Christian.” Christianity is more like a name tag rather than a lifestyle. Keep it on when you need help or when you go to church and take it off when it might prove to be more of a liability than a blessing.
What’s the difference?
What is the difference between a nominal Christian and a real Christian? A real Christian comes to church and goes about life in order to give of themselves to God and others. A nominal Christian comes to church to receive. They want to receive communion without receiving Christ. They want to receive worship and hear the songs they like rather than defer to others in the song selections. If things don’t go they way they want at worship they complain. Why? Because they didn’t get what they wanted. Real Christians don’t often complain about worship because when you come to church to give your expectations will almost always be met. When you come to church as a nominal Christian, you cannot be completely satisfied because in your mind it should be about you but it never will be.
Family & Responsibility:
Being a nominal Christian is like being a child in a family but having no responsibility. Their presence is a demand on the real Christians that goes like this, “You feed me, you shelter me, you take me where I want to go and I will sit here and enjoy it. If you goof up, I am going to gripe until I get what I want.” The church is a family and family doesn’t work that way. Being a Christian and living in Christian community comes with responsibility. It means we serve others and come to give rather than to receive. Imagine if the widow with the mites had come to the temple and complained that God should have blessed her with more and that it was the priests who should be giving to her rather than the other way around.
Calling nominal Christians to discipleship:
Jesus knew of some nominal Christians (Mtt 7:22). Even though they had done lots of churchy things, he said he didn’t know them. The reality is there are many people who think they are on solid ground with God but they are not. They call themselves Christians but they are not. Sitting in a pew no more makes you a Christian than sitting in a firetruck makes you a firefighter. When the alarm rings, we know who is going to go into action.
We need to have more specific efforts aimed at helping people understand that their faith must be more than a convenience. I don’t think it is going to happen through a sermon. They have heard them all. I don’t think it is going to happen through the singing. They have sung thousands of songs but may not realize a word they are singing. How do you think we can help this group of pseudo-Christians understand God in a deeper way than, “What’s in it for me?”
Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen – The Problem of Nominal Christianity