How many times have I have heard someone say: “I left that church because they weren’t meeting my needs.”
The thing I’m struggling with is the vision of a church as a place where our needs ought to be met, as if we were entering a shop, then storming out because the service did not meet our expectations. All of which begs the question: Is the purpose of a church to meet my needs? Is that why we join a church – in order to be served?
You are aware that service is the Christian model. Jesus tells his disciples that though the way of the world is to demand things of others, “It shall not be so with you” (Matthew 20:25-28). When our model of church resembles worldly models, it is time to reevaluate!
We do not draw our view of the church from military, political or business models! Greatness in the church lies not in calling the shots but in service. The real model is that of Jesus – the greatest servant of all. He declares that “the greatest among us” would be the one who serves the most (Matthew 23:11,12).
In the upside down world of Christianity, leadership is service, greatness is humility. In the Christian system, we “consider others as better” than ourselves, we “look not only” to our interests but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3,4).
When we think of leadership in the church, the sound of water in a basin should fill our ears (John 13:12-14). To slightly misquote John F. Kennedy, we should “Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.”
Folks, service is not one of the ministries of the church; service is what Christians do!
I get it. Jesus is the loving, compassionate savior and the church is the collection of mistake-prone, flawed people who claim to follow him. I am not claiming that the church is perfect. I am claiming that the church is deeply valued by God! He shed his blood for it (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25). The church is his radiant bride. The Lord lovingly and sacrificially gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:27).
We see a bunch of people who didn’t meet our expectations; God sees his beautiful bride. Is God’s love blind? Actually, no, love is truly love only if it loves in spite of imperfections.
Here are some practical suggestions
- Our contribution need not be big and flashy. Even a cup of water is noted by the Lord (Matthew 10:42).
- There doesn’t have to be a program. We can simply do something good for someone else.
- But we can help by supporting church programs.
- Serving is something everyone – the young, the old, the shy – can do.
- Encouraging is a ministry (Acts 4:36,37). The church needs another Barnabas.
Someone says, “But I don’t owe those people a thing!” (Well, we’ll ignore a rather poor attitude toward your brethren).
Make no mistake, we do owe someone. We were “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). In fact, the Lord calls on us to “lay our lives down for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
The way we serve each other is the way we serve God. We do not serve in a vacuum; we serve in a church.