1-They evaluate “results” while ignoring faithfulness to Scripture. When Christians consider different approaches to missions, they often jump straight to the results: “How many people has this brought to Christ?” But there are two problems with this approach. First, God calls Christians to be faithful to his Word and to trust him to bring about fruit, which only he can do (1 Corinthians 3:6). Second, the initial decisions often prove hugely deceptive as indicators of lasting fruit (Matthew 13:1-23). A far wiser course is to primarily weigh a method’s faithfulness to the teaching and example of Scripture.
2-They assume the Bible is silent about the “how” of missions. They think the Bible has nothing to say about how we should preach the gospel and plant churches in other parts of the world, and so they ignore Scripture when they promote or evaluate different ministry methods. But the more we study Scripture, the more we see that it provides principles, instructions, and commands about how we are to evangelize the lost and establish churches in unreached areas.
3—They Delay Baptism. This is a trend I have witnessed more in the last 15-20 years at Austin Christian Fellowship. While we have seen hundreds and hundreds of adults embrace Jesus, we have also noticed a significantly smaller number of them follow up that decision with baptism.
I have found two common myths about baptism among our people: One is that they have to have it all together before they get baptized, the other is that their baptism as an infant is enough. Neither is true.
I plan to write about this more in the future, but suffice it to say that baptism is a sign that you do not have it all together—thus your need for the Savior. Beyond that, your infant baptism was for your parents, not you. You need to update your baptism to reflect your decision, not your parents’ decision.
Beyond that, God honors obedience…and baptism is an act of obedience. You can do the math.
4—They Have Irregular or Nonexistent Quiet Times. This is a major cause of the struggling and powerless lives so many Christians live today, and it is one that is easily fixed. Bottom line: it is impossible to grow as a believer without regular times of Bible study and prayer.
Many of us are more committed to our personal training or watching our favorite television shows than we are meeting with Jesus…and our lives reflect it.
If you are serious about walking with Jesus, then regular times of sitting at his feet and listening to his Word (see Luke 10:38ff) have to trump everything else.
5—They Do Not Tithe. This is a real head-scratcher for me. The data is in and the testimonies of those who give are too many to number. Bottom line: God honors giving. And yet, the typical American Christian gives away only 1% of his or her income.
Tithing (giving the first 10th of your earnings to your church) is a spiritual discipline that is accompanied with multiple promises in the Bible. It is also the only discipline that God dares us to test Him in. He basically says, “Hey, try this and see if I won’t just blow you away with blessing.”
I have been tithing since I was a kid. Now, Susie and I tithe to ACF and give beyond our tithe to other ministries. It is part of our financial strategy. And it works. We have always had enough, actually more than enough.
Too many Christians do not know freedom in their financial worlds. The reason? They don’t tithe. However, just like the rest of these common mistakes, it is something they can fix today.
6—They Live in Isolation. Many Christians stall out in their Christian lives because they don’t get the full benefit of being part of the overall Body of Christ. They don’t let believers with differing spiritual gifts speak into their lives. They don’t have any accountability. They don’t have anyone watching their backs.
And like a burning log that is taken out of the fire, their flame eventually goes out.
Christians need community. We need intimate, authentic and accountable relationships. It’s like competing in a triathlon, climbing Everest or riding in the Tour de France—each is impossible without a good support system. And consistently living the Christian life is harder than a triathlon, climbing Everest or riding in the Tour.
Living in Christian community is not optional in the Bible, and yet many believers are flailing in their respective Christian walks because they are living in spiritual isolation