Q. Our church recently hired a new lead pastor who has truly reinvigorated our congregation. Attendance is up and there is an energy present which has been lacking for many years. My question is this; I have never heard him use the term “Christians” or “believers”. He instead uses the term “Christ followers” to describe the body. For some reason this is very unsettling to my spirit. To me there is a big difference between a follower and a believer. Am I being unfair, or is there a difference? Paul said plainly in Acts, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”. Thank you for your help with this.
A. In some parts of the church the term “Christ follower” is being used to describe those who are “doers of the word not hearers only” from James 1:22. The idea is that a follower of Christ does what Jesus did.
Sometimes doing what Jesus did is even given priority over believing in who Jesus is. When that happens we can actually have people getting great personal satisfaction from doing good works without ever being saved. This is one of the criticisms of the emerging church movement with its “social gospel.”
It’s important to remember that when the people asked Him, “What is the work God requires of us?” Jesus answered, “Believe in the one He sent” (John 6:28-29).
In fairness to your pastor, you should see how much emphasis He’s placing on saving souls before coming to any conclusion. This is the first priority of the Church. Doing good things in the Lord’s name can be exciting, but it’s supposed to be an expression of our gratitude for the free gift of salvation, not a substitute for it.