When you look at a bobblehead doll, the head is disproportionate to the rest of the body, right? I've got to credit our Young Singles Coordinator, Andrew, with this analogy, but in the church, we tend to have many bobblehead believers.
What do I mean by this?
- We know more than we live out.
- We can quote pastors and Christian writers, but we know their words more than we know the Word.
- We're absorbing teaching but not relaying it (like a sponge taking in water without ever being squeezed out).
If you've read Jim Putnam's book Real Life Discipleship, a Christian bobblehead would be in the stages of a spiritual infant and/or spiritual child. Spiritual infants are characterized by ignorance and dependence and often do not know what it means to follow Christ on a daily basis. They lack spiritual depth, tend to have a worldly perspective, and may even mix beliefs from other religions with Christianity. They are easily influenced, needy, and easily led astray. Spiritual children may be old or young, Christians for a few months or for decades. Like a typical 8 or 9 year old, they are characterized by self-centeredness, are controlled by their emotions, and tend to be very black-and-white. Believers who church shop and who act more like receivers than contributors fit in this category. What they say they believe may also be inconsistent with how they live.
So how do we help others grow into their heads?
- Teach them how to study God's Word and to be a self-feeder instead of relying on others to feed them
- Challenge them not just to know what the Word says but to think through how God wants to transform their desires through what they read and how He wants them to apply what they are reading in Scripture to their life
- Teach them how to pray and spend consistent time in conversation with God
- Provide them with accountability
- Pray for them and for the Holy Spirit to mold their hearts and affections
- Help them learn how to share the gospel with others
- Take them with you as you serve, teach, and share - let them see what you do and how you do it
- Share with them what God is teaching you and how you are applying what you are learning
- Provide the expectation that ALL believers are disciple-makers, that there are no Christian spectators
Like a small child needs to grow into their mouth and head, believers need to grow into their heads. What we know should be proportionate to the rest of us - how God is transforming our minds, affections, relationships, and purpose in this world. Plastic bobbleheads can be fun and amusing, but the same cannot be said of bobblehead believers.