Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Use of Influence

I was thinking... it is popular for Christian leaders and pastors to try to parlay the influence of a person into building the Kingdom. You know... someone has power, influence, money - he/she is looked upon as a source from which the church or maybe a Christian organization can pull something they want or need.

For instance, consider Jason Castro and Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas (which by the way, is my church). We all know Jason from American Idol fame. He has quite a bit of influence - especially since he is from Rowlett (next door to Rockwall where Lakepointe Church is based) and was/is a member of Lakepointe from before his newfound celebrity status.

Here is my hypothesis (since I wasn't involved in the planning of it): This past Christmas, knowing that many non-members and many non-Christians would be darkening the doors, the leadership at Lakepointe invited Jason to perform the opening song at the Christmas eve service. They also did a purposely cheesy kind of skit where the senior pastor and teaching pastor came out on stage with fake dreadlocks on mimicking Jason's. I thought it was kinda funny myself. Now I am not necessarily disagreeing with Jason performing, I see alot of good in his being there. But for my purposes, I want to use it to make my point just the same.

Now I am sure the leaders at Lakepointe used Jason's influence to draw people to the church. They did it in a tasteful way. There were no billboards, newspaper ads, etc. to my knowledge. Just word of mouth. Their intentions were good. People do need to have the opportunity to hear the Word of Christ and the opportunity to submit their lives to Him. That's a good thing. I wholeheartedly endorse their intentions and why they did what they did. They were using Jason's influence. Much like other leaders use influential people for other reasons: money, their standing in government (the Christian conservative right wingers come to mind with that statement), their standing with other influential and wealthy people, they were thinking they could harness all the influence Jason has to bring people to Christ.

But as I was reading through this passage, I wondered why Jesus didn't use the influence this rich young man probably had. After all, he had a lot of money that Jesus could have used to further His Kingdom. This young man probably had a lot of influence with other rich, young men who, in turn, have money and power to use to further the Kingdom. He could have traveled with Jesus, paid the expenses and gathered his rich friends together to help Jesus spread the Word.

But Jesus didn't do that. He told the man to sell everything he owned, and the man was unwilling to do that. The scripture says he went away sad. As a side note, it's interesting that though he really wanted to attain salvation, he still stuck by his money - and he wasn't happy with his money - he was sad. Apparently, misery loves money.

Why didn't Jesus use this man's influence and wealth like so many Christian leaders seem to do?

Looking at this situation from another angle, perhaps Jesus did use this man and his wealth to His purpose. Once the man left, Jesus turned to his disciples and, as if in closing comments to the illustration His followers had just witnessed, said:

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

He was clearly teaching them a lesson about what's important and what's not. Kingdom stuff is important. Money is not. Don't confuse money, power and wealth with God's Kingdom purposes. He is not dependent on them.

Perhaps the corporate style leaders in today's Churches and Christian organizations could consider this lesson as they seek to bring people to Christ.

Addendum: For everyone coming to this site looking for a video of Jason, here is the video of the performance at Lakepointe.


aiden'smimi said...

Actually, I don't think Steve & Wes were using Jason. I live in Rockwall, attend Lake Pointe Towneast (in Mesquite)and only heard AFTER the fact that Jason sang. Actually, we were at the Dec. 23rd service at our church and didn't hear he sang until at the Dec. 24th service. & then a staff member just mentioned it my husband. I think they could have really hyped it just to have a crowd and they didn't. I saw the Youtube of them in dreads, thought that was hilarious and a lowkey way to acknowledge Jason.

Alan Paul said...

I did say they were tasteful about it - but I think they did indeed use him - and as I said, with good intentions - I think some folks who aren't believers went and heard the message they brought.

We heard vis word of mouth after the first service. I actually didn't see him as we arrived late.

Interestingly, we live in Mesquite and attend the Rockwall campus while you live in Rockwall and attend the Mesquite campus. Also, we were part of Meadow Creek Community Church when we voted to become part of Lakepointe.

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