In sports, we can safely divide fans into at least three groups: the fair weather fans who root for their team when they are winning, and disappear when they are losing; the die hard fans who root for their team year after year, win or lose, no matter what (see the Detroit Lions fan base); and the bandwagon fans – those rootless sports mercenaries who cheer for whichever team happens to be the best right now. There may be more divisions, but for the sake of blog brevity, we will look at just these three.
A similar paradigm can be found among Christians. Some are fair weather disciples. If the weather is right, or it’s a holiday, or something special is going on down at the church house, and “if the Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise,” they will be there. Give them something exciting to watch and you might hold their interest for a while. They may turn into Sunday morning only attenders. But they won’t be around for much more than that. Nice folks, you’re glad when they show up, they can often be a blessing – but they aren’t going to be like the next group we will discuss – the die-hard disciples.
These radical, fanatical followers love their Saviour, His Word, His service and His church. Rain or shine, hot or cold, summer time or the dead of winter, they are going to be in their place. Even more, they are going to be getting involved. And, like the guy pictured to the left, die-hard disciples can seem a little fanatical to those who don’t share their love for the Lord or His church. They take their Christianity outside the church house to the streets. Like the man who has a Cowboys vanity plate on his car and wears his Jason Witten jersey to the store, the die-hard disciple STANDS OUT. No one questions his loyalty for long.
Super Bowl Sunday? Ha! The die-hard disciple would not miss his church service for anything so eternally inconsequential.
But then you have the bandwagon disciple. This is the guy who just started rooting for the Broncos this week. He loves Peyton Manning – now that he is setting records and headed to the Super Bowl. His jersey and ball cap still have the tags on. Last year he was Ravens fan, and next year… well, we will have to wait and see. In basketball, he roots for the Heat, though he used to root for the Lakers (when they were winning). The bandwagon fan has no lasting loyalty; his cheers are up for bid year after year for whoever can give him the best entertainment.
Today, he is a member of the most exciting church in town. He loves to watch what OTHERS are doing; he may even get a little involved, if it is exciting enough. If things die down, or the growth levels off, or the pastor stops spoiling him (this kind of member considers himself a customer and expects to be treated like one), or the “honeymoon” ends, or when he’s heard all the preacher’s stories, or he has his first disagreement or problem in the church, or when a newer and more exciting church rises up down the street – well, he will do what people do all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area every few years – he will move on down the road and buy a new jersey.
It is an unfortunate statistical fact that only 35% of new members in a church will remain in that church more than 5 years. Dr. Keith Gomez wisely said, “If you join the church for the wrong reasons, you will leave the church for the wrong reasons.”
The Lord Jesus had different kinds of followers even in His earthly ministry. Some followed for the meat, many for the miracles, others were just following the multitudes. At one point, these “bandwagon” disciples turned their backs and walked away from Jesus (Jn. 6:66). He did, however, have some “die-hard” disciples:
John 6:67-69 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? (68) Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (69) And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Which best describes you?
Thank you for reading. God bless.