The Trouble with Passivity in Christianity

Can anyone imagine any NFL team adopting a new strategy for that involved a typical ‘practice’ where the coach got up on a platform and talked for 30-60 minutes a week and then expected the team to perform well in a game?

Of course, anyone would realize this is pure nonsense for any type of training where the performance of duties was dependent on the participants and not the coaches.

In examining the ‘Teaching Model’ above, we can trace back most of those origins to the factory model system adopted as a result of the industrial revolution.  This paradigm quickly became the education model for our modern schools that emphasized neat rows upon rows of desks and a teacher bombarding the students from the top on down into the aisles.

Albeit, this is NOT the teaching model found in the scriptures.

Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Okay, we can all admit that we lack the presence of the apostles today, but nonetheless, we have the scriptures to guide us.

Where one can discover all the particular characteristics of the early church, I think all would agree the early church was at least illustrated by activity!

Aside from meeting daily in homes, the early Christians were devoted and extremely active with high expectations.  We do read of many divisions and too, we see all Christians participating in their salvation existence.

Other elements to look for is that we don’t see people divided by sex or age.  These customs once again are facets of the factory model system and continue to spill over into our education programs that include the churches.

Thus, the early CHURCH then was a true extension of the body of Christ.  For many reasons, it did not involve air conditioned buildings with connected stereo systems that staged modern productions nor were children hard-wired to expect donuts and field trips to amusement parks separate from adults.

Further exploration into the scriptures reveal a positive, active church body that contributed in all ways to the teaching of Jesus.  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…” (1 Peter 2:9)

This was not left to one person or ‘preacher’ but was seen as the active duty of all Christians.

In short, this was not a passive activity!  Christianity was and should be a living, active exercise and demonstration of FAITH!  The notion of passivity is counter to the true model of the early church and should be the identical model to this day.



2 thoughts on “The Trouble with Passivity in Christianity

  1. You open with a great question and contrast of church and NFL. An organization interested in action does not behave so passively, but much more actively.

    I see your illustration about industry (I think), but I wonder why you don’t translate your criticism more to the consumerist mentality. After all, I think that is what we have reduced church to. A consumerist goods/services type industry. We choose a church where “we are comfortable” where they “meet the needs” of our kids – or what have you…. And once there, we treat worship like it is something we consume rather than offer/perform. And, at least in my Protestant tradition (like many others, I think), the sermon becomes the focal point (the most passive part of a worship service!).

    My family splits up and goes to 3 different churches each Sunday, but then we all meet up at Grandmas for lunch. If, and I mean IF, if someone asks… “So how was church today where you went?” (A question that already stacks the deck looking for a consumerist response), the reply almost invariably critiques the sermon.

    “Well, the pastor gave us a good word on forgiving others today.”

    “We had a fill-in preacher today, and he told a lot of jokes, but not much Bible…”

    “Well, the sermon ran long today… I thought the preacher was never gonna quit.”

    It’s actually rare that a respondent will even regurgitate any meaningful theology or exegetical insight. IF, and again I mean IF, a respondent says anything of substance about the sermon, it is most likely they remember the “illustration” rather than the text – the Word of God. But they almost always put a critical word on there like “Good” or “long” or “deep” – and usually with little or no more thought on it than that.

    But again, this is the SERMON… the most passive part of the WORSHIP service. I always want to hear someone ask, “So how was church where you went today?” and a respondent say, “Wow! We really worshipped the God of creation like never before! We really adored Jesus, and expressed our thanks with a HUGE offering!”

    You know.. something like that!

    To use your football analogy, someone might say, “Our fervent WORSHIP today was soooooo rich and melodic, poetic and true that the devil surely suffered tremendous losses on the battle field!”

    Instead, though, we zero in on the sermon and give it no more passing thought than if we were recommending a special brand of shampoo to a friend with dandruff.

    Great post! So glad to see you back…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Going along with what you are saying, sermons often center along the line of getting some from our Lord. We want a job, or riches, or money. Somehow or someway we see Jesus as a large bank on which to draw a draft, to be used in our daily struggles as opposed to worship or fulfillment in our duties to the Lord. thank you for your post. good response.

      Liked by 1 person

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