By Loren Gjesdal
As a pastor who found it necessary to call a congregation back to church in person after doing church online, I realized that it wasn’t enough to simply say “We’re open, you can come back now.” I realized it was going to be essential to answer the question, “Why?” “Why should I get off my comfortable couch, dress up, drive over, and do the same thing in a pew instead?”
The Biblical answer is simple and clear: because you’re needed here!
God’s plan is for every member to be a minister. The Reformers called God’s plan the “Priesthood of All Believers.” In this plan everyone is important; no one should feel responsible to do everything; and we are entirely interdependent.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY MEMBER
At home I can be independent. I can do what blesses me. I can browse the available church services until I find something that meets my needs. I can soak up another’s labor without offering my own. In God’s plan I’m responsible to offer my service for your benefit:
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
If each of us is going to benefit each other effectively, we are going to need to know each other. We are going to need to have relationships. We will need proximity to provide opportunity for the interactions necessary to build beneficial relationships:
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
HOW DO WE STOP THE BURNOUT/DROP OUT PANDEMIC?
Surveys and poll results continue to warn the American church that pastors are burning out and church members are dropping out. How do we stop the burnout/drop out pandemic? Not by competing with the programming of big churches. This just feeds the consumer mentality underlying “easy-leavism.”
The solution can be found in the yet unfinished business of the Reformation, the “Priesthood of all Believers.” The solution is not a call to fill a pew, to fulfill some sense of guilt-based obligation, but rather the solution is a clear call to missional purpose and engagement!
The invitation should be to join in the building of the kingdom of God in the Earth, not to merely fill a building with bodies. My reminder to each reader is that the wise plan of God is to build His temple out of living stones, not couch potatoes:
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
EVERY MEMBER IS A LEADER
In God’s new covenant temple, every living stone, every member is to be a minister of the gospel of the Kingdom of God:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9)
It is the challenge of leaders (whether holding an office or not, as leadership is about influence not titles) to help the church become what God ordained it to be. In other words, leaders must help the church to always be in a process of moving from what is, to what ought to be.
ARE YOU OFF THE COUCH YET?
Are you off the couch yet? Are you wondering what your missional purpose is? Are you ready to be a part of calling the Church of God to be part of a “Priesthood of All Believers”?
Artios is here to help! Register now for the Essentials of Vibrant Leadership class. Learn more about the unfinished business of the reformation and God’s call to ministry for every believer at Artios Christian College in the link below. Check out resources available for you and your church at The Center for Vibrant Leadership in the link below.