The Myth of the ‘Part-time’ Christian
Believers of today identify themselves as either “part-time” or “full-time” in matters of ministry. They use the frequency of doing certain things as the standard of deciding to which category they belong. We argue that some Christians workers are part-time while others are full-time. However, this view is not consistent with the Bible. So, let’s look a little deeper into the dangers of being a ‘part-timer’ and what the bible says about this matter.
When we say that some are full-time ministers of the gospel and some are not, we excuse the part-timers from some commands given by Jesus. The commands by Jesus were and still are to all who are called by His Name – all those who identify themselves as Christians. The commands like “go and make disciples of all nations ….” are left to the ‘full-timers’ and part-timers exclude themselves from such commands. Consequently, this classification assumes that some Christians are exempted from certain spiritual disciplines. That part-timers should not pray as much, study the Word as much and obey Jesus like the ‘full-timers’ should. This introduces a second-class Christianity in which much is demanded from the full-timers but little from the others. This is evident in our times as it is assumed that only pastors and missionaries should pray more, study the entire bible, forgive and love everyone and everybody.
This categorization tends to separate the part-timers from the absolute non-negotiable standards of discipleship. That those on full-time should never sin, no matter the circumstance yet the part-timers can do as they please. They can afford habitual sins; after all they are not full-timers like their pastors. Part-timers assume that they don’t have to live holy lives like other Christians who are full-time. They are the first to comment and point fingers when the full-timers fall into sin. They believe that there are standards for full-timers that are different from those of part-timers. This is deception since all the standards that apply to a missionary and other servants of God who serve full-time also apply to all those who are not. Every disciple of Jesus is bound by scripture no matter the identity or kingdom responsibilities assigned to them.
It is expected that every believer participates in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It was not God’s intention that only a handful “full-timers” should be involved. Each was meant to play a part. When we divide the Body of Christ into full-timers and part-timers, the part-timers end up not doing much. They say the roles of healing the sick, evangelism and quitting jobs to attend to other kingdom responsibilities are reserved for the full-timers and not them. They say they are not “called”. And they say they have not heard the call. This kind of mentality and the actions of it, robs the part-timers an opportunity to trust God for kingdom responsibility. It limits the level of their depth in God. It makes them not experience God as they should. It limits how much God can use them to execute His agenda.
The part-time believer mentality introduces a dependence mentality. It makes part-timers rely on others for things they should be doing for themselves. They rely on the full-timers to pray for them and to attend to all their life issues. They depend on full-timers to study the Bible and then preach it to them. They rely on others to help them out on all spiritual matters. This is the reason a congregation of “part-time” believers can rely and look to the anointing of the full-timers.
The full-timers develop an entitlement mentality. They feel entitled to receiving offerings and support and to be treated in a special manner by the part-timers. I have been to events and meetings that the clergy are in attendance and from how they are treated, everyone can tell that there is a clear distinction between them and the rest of the people present. They feel entitled because they have left their jobs and “sacrificed” more than everyone else.
There is no portion of the Bible that teaches that the Body of Christ is divided into full-time and part-time believers. In fact, all believers are and should always be full-time. We are full-time soldiers of the Cross. Our lights should keep shinning during the day and during the night. Jesus looked up to the Father Who is always working. Our Lord Jesus is always working and so should you and I. How can we afford to be part-time while our Lord is full-time? The Church is a Body and we all are parts of that Body. And just like a living body, there is no part-time heart or part-time brain or eye. All parts of the body are ever full-time. What kind of a body would it be if some organs were part-time? This dichotomy has caused the Church to regress and believers should do away with it. It’s a myth that is highly deceptive.
If you are not full-time with Jesus, then you are ‘No-time’ at all with Him.
***Peter Kale (not his real name) is a missionary serving among an unreached people group in Northern Kenya