We live in a world plagued by consumerism and unfortunately the local church reflects that trend. If you stop and take an honest look at most churches you will find that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work. To further complicate things the demands of every individual’s time is beginning to reduce the amount of time that the “twenty percent” are able to put in. This is leading to a crisis where church members are doing less and less and staff are having to pick up more and more resulting in increasing numbers of staff burnout. But, you say, isn’t that what we pay them for!” The biblical answer to that assertion is a resounding NO! The Gospel isn’t about what “I can get” but rather what “I can give”.
The Bible clearly teaches and biblical leaders model that it is up to every person who is a part of the Body of Christ to serve. Consider Ephesians 4:11-16,
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
This passage instructs us as to why it is important to serve in and through your local church; first it grows and builds up the body and second it produces spiritual maturity. Let’s take a look at these two principals.
Having consulted and coached well over one hundred churches God constantly amazes me at how he not only has a specific calling for a local church but he also gathers those leaders and people together who He needs to accomplish His mission. One of the things I commonly advise a pastor as they lead their church to discern their purpose and vision is to take a look around at those whom God has brought to the church. An assessment of their gift mix (a combination of spiritual gifts, natural abilities and acquired skills) can help inform the church’s leadership of its ministry direction. The question is will those who God has called step up and serve?
This morning my wife and I were on our morning exercise walk around “The Loop,” a popular path for walkers and runners in our area. We saw several people out running but there was one in particular running as if he were a well-oiled machine. Every part of his body was working in perfect harmony with every other part propelling him forward at a pace I could only dream of. It was a great reminder of how this passage teaches how a local church should work. With Christ as the head, the leadership, pastors and staff, equip the people of God for works of service and each person steps up and fulfills their place of service.
On the contrary if I were to try and run like the above mentioned runner it would only take a short distance before my right knee would call out in pain and if I were to keep pressing it would soon fail me and to put it simply, I would end up falling on my face. In much the same way whenever a member of the church declines to do their part in working toward the accomplishment of the mission of the church it weakens and decreases the effectiveness of the church. If the church, the body of Christ is going to accomplish its task it will take “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament.”
I mentioned earlier that the Gospel isn’t about what “I will get” but rather about what “I can give.” That being true the paradox of the Gospel is that in giving I receive. Look again at what Ephesians 4:13 says will happen when a Christian is involved in works of service, “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Many Christians believe, and I say this, as something I have observed is that “growing in Christian maturity” is all about studying and learning the Bible. While these things are very important we must understand that it is impossible to know God outside of the mission of Jesus. Let me explain.
We know the Father by knowing Jesus (John 14:6-7). We get to know Jesus by engaging in the mission of Jesus. In other words Jesus’ disciples are made in the trenches.
When Jesus called his disciples it was a call to join him in his mission of being “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). When Jesus appeared to the disciples following his resurrection he told them “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). His last charge to the disciples before his ascension was to continue the work he had started of making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). In Philemon 6 the Apostle Paul encourages Philemon in his faith, “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” In other words as I engage in the mission of Jesus I become more aware of all of the blessings of Jesus!
Think back to a time where you have played on a team or served on a team at work, in a civic club or in church where everyone on the team had the same end goal, each understood their role and pulled their weight. Do you remember the feeling of harmony and unity? What if that were true of your whole church body? It can be if each member of the church embraces the mission of the church, understands their unique role and engages in their part.
Is it time for you to get out of your comfortable seat and get in the trench?
For the past thirty-nine years Wayne has served the Church in local churches ranging in size from 50 to 4,500, in two denominational roles as well with an international missions organization. Through these varied experiences God has developed in him a deep passion for His Church and the leaders that lead her.
Wayne’s calling is see the re-missionalization of the Church in North America! MORE>>