There have been many articles and probably books written about the types of Christians in the world, today and from the past. This may be just another one to add to the pile.
My observations are based on my experiences and what I have read in various articles. I am not perfect at all, but try to practice my faith and strengthen it through thought, reading, contemplation, and action. No where need perfection though.
From my perspective, there are several Christian character types which seem to gain more attention than others or have a presence at times in various church programs.
Bambi Christians. Everything looks good. The packaging is bright and beautiful, yet the depth is a thin as a laminate. There is nothing wrong with being upbeat and looking good. The unfortunate part is that it sometimes seems fake and unreal, almost too good to be true. There is an ugly part of this type, too, in that they are sometimes threatened by depth and then work to undermine deeper studies, thoughts, and actions. This also is where the cliques seem to form, lessening the opportunity for others to get involved.
Stallone Christians. Fire and brimstone are the main thrusts. Throw everything at them, and fear will make people be better. Sometimes it is good to get people to sit up and pay attention or be startled to listen, challenged to act. However, many times it scares people off, and they do not see clearly the loving, forgiving elements of religion.
Madoff Christians. Just send the money. Being a Christian is merely a financial scheme. It may be combined with the previous two from time-to-time, but the primary objective is to raise funds. When those funds are put to use, questions arise as to where it actually goes and who really benefits. Unfortunately, all religious organizations suffer when these stories break.
Andy Rooney Christians. Being very critical is the guiding principle for these types. Every action or word spoken by another person involved in the church is criticized; nothing is quite right with what the other person is doing. What do you mean that the person did not say “Amen” after receiving the Communion element? Can you believe that they only gave $5 for that mission? It makes people feel unworthy, not belonging, inappropriate to lend a hand, participate, or try to be a better Christian.
Shewart Christians. It is a statistical control or six sigma approach to Christianity. Everything must run on time, flow like a well-timed process, and be designed with nothing less than the best. Everyone enjoys a Sunday service that is put together well. When the focus is greater on the logistics and the design, the message may be lost. This is the danger with this Christian type, leading to impersonal attributes and disconnected members.
Other Christian types could be added, unfortunately. We are human after all, but Christians are supposed to try harder, right?
The reality is – Within a church, many – if not all – of these types or others exist.
The reality is – There are examples of church leaders who can fit into one or more of these types or may even be in a completely different typecast; all are less than flattering.
The reality is – No one is perfect and, to some degree, we may slip into one of these unflattering Christian types temporarily at different times.
What happens when people catch on or feel deflated by these actions is people leave the church. Some may try to find another; others may just give up, stand back, or search for some other “faith” experience.
There seems to be more talk about being an authentic Christian, about being real. All are good discussions to have and engage in, but what happens afterwards is the real key. The practices and actions are what ultimately matter.
Becoming a caricature Christian is not the goal. The challenge for us all is to recognize when it happens and change or challenge the misdirection, prevent the stereotype, don’t be the caricature.
Being a Christian shouldn’t include any qualifiers. It should simply mean to –
- Be real, go deep
- Be forgiving, loving, accepting
- Be giving to the most in need
- Be diligent in doing, in activating our faith
- Be humble in our work and interactions
- Be a leader, showing the real Christian characteristics, leading with passion and organization, and stretching others in their faith journey
We must all try harder to live a life or walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. This thought is based on a verse in Colossians. “Live a life worthy of the Lord” was the first translation I read many years ago, and it stuck with me.
In the ESV version, it has “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” The notes from ESV Online highlight the following: “’To walk’ is a Jewish metaphor for conducting or behaving oneself.” What a great note to end on.
 …walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10 ESV)
What do you think?