After yesterday's Part 2 discussion about commitment, a commenter made the statement...
"There's a lot of commitment-phobia out there. On the flip side, when you get committed you often get drained too... because there are so many who come but don't commit."
It's very true. The old adage that 10% of the people do 90% of the work is a very true principle, give or take percentage points depending on the situation. Later in the week, I'll talk about giving and the benefits of picking ONE place to invest in primarily, but today I want to look at ways to effectively WORK within the local church in a way that benefits EVERYONE.
For a long time, churches have run by paying a guy to do "the work". We called him Pastor but his role looks nothing like what the word meant in the Bible. We expect him to be do everything from gardening, to visiting seniors in the hospital. to preach The Ghost down, to civic schmoozing... while the attenders... attend. "Members" became consumers, unaccustomed to the idea that they themselves had real roles to play. When they tried, they found themselves to be brittle and out of practice so they blamed the guy they paid. Ugly cycle but the logical outcome of how we've set up, and thought about The Church when it comes to work.
Church structure is a VERY touchy issue to some... then to others it can seem mere semantics. But I see it maybe as THE major failing of MOST of our modern churches that cripples even the ability of willing workers to work!
Here's what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians:
"Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It's not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him."
It's vital to the life of a functioning body of ministry for us all to understand our gifts. We are actually ALL ministers of the gospel and our roles are meant to work symbiotically (A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence). It's only when we're OK with ourselves that we can fully release others to be who THEY are too. What has been happening since Paul was roaming the countryside putting out fires in churches, is that people of like-gifting tend to clump together. And if that gets out of whack, it leads to...
Prophet 1: "those pastoral people drive me nuts... hearts bleeding all over the floor. What a mess. Not a backbone in the bunch"
Prophet 2: "Justice baby. Let's just call down the fire and be done with it. Dang"
Prophet 3: "here here... this church is a mess. Let's see what the minor prophets would have done... hmm... burn it to the ground eh? Done"
Ever heard that conversation? It goes the other way too.
Pastor 1: "That Apostle just doesn't care!
Pastor 2: "Does he EVEN realize how often I've visited Mrs Buzzbubble? I made her a casserole... A CASSEROLE!!! Has he EVER made a casserole??"
Pastor 3: "(Weeping) This church doesn't care... the spirit has left the house. I'm taking my people somewhere where they can't be hurt by those monsters"
Our gifts are DESIGNED to give us different motivations. And they are designed to leave us in need of each other. They only work if they are functioning together and under willing submission to each other. Check out Harold Eberle's church design from his fantastic book, "The Complete Wineskin".
This is one of the most important, revolutionary (ironically since it's Biblical) and liberating structures for a healthy church that makes it worth working in. The Apostles and Prophets and Teachers (and there are fewer of these people) lead to be able release a TON of Pastors and Evangelists (and there are MANY of these) in their ministry. It happens by really getting to know each other, being in committed relationships as a team together, AND even submitting ourselves to each other to make sure that the health of the whole is kept as a priority.
This allows for Apostles... whose call is to go and take new ground, to stop being jammed into a pastoral (Caring/Shepparding) role, that they were never designed for. It saves ENORMOUS frustration AND opens up a role for someone who LOVES showing God's love in a one-on-one way since they WERE designed that way. It structurally releases EVERYONE to be able to dream how they can share Christ with the world and care for His people.
It is important to work with the local church because it's ability to play the role it was designed for... and it's people's ability to play the role they were designed for... is dependent on EVERYONE including YOU playing the role YOU were designed for.
If you missed it, here are Part One and Two. Tomorrow we look at the benefits of picking ONE place to call yours.