One year ago today (as I write this) we met for our final in-person service of 2020. Most of us thought, honestly, that we might need to take a few weeks of gathering online. Perhaps until Easter. Maybe until Summer. Surely not longer than that. October, latest. Christmas, surely by then things will be back to normal? January, now people have been vaccinated?
Up until now, every focal point in the future we’ve been given as “Then we’ll talk about churches meeting again” has come and gone. However, now that people the world over are starting to receive vaccines, the flicker of hope that we are close to gathering in-person again has been reignited.
It’s been a year of ups and downs, not always in equal number. So, what have we learnt? Let me share with you something I think we’ve learnt as believers and as a body. Six months into the pandemic we shared something similar. Those points are still very valid, maybe more so now. If you didn’t read that, please do, here.
Every Member Ministry
This has been a recurring theme for me this past twelve months. I understand my call, my role, and my office well enough to know that it’s not my job to do every single thing for the church. If that disappoints you, I’m sorry, but it’s true. We’re a body, a family, and a wall. Each of those word pictures tells us that we are made up of many parts. Not one. We all help one another, we all love one another, and we all hold one another up. I know well enough that my job as a pastor-teacher is to encourage, equip, and enable others to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4.10-12). I pull the strings, I don’t do all the things. If church is an orchestra, I conduct, I don’t play every instrument.
This year I’ve been pulled in so many directions that I’ve felt like Stretch Armstrong; Livestream Expert, TV Presenter, Lighting Technician, Funeral Director, Online Theology Consultant, Listening Ear, Budget Cutter, Unpopular Decision Maker, not to mention husband and Dad. Maybe this year the church has needed a pastor-teacher more than ever. This year, without a doubt, I’ve needed the church more than ever. I’ve desired, needed, and craved every member ministry. I’ve needed to know, for my own mental and spiritual wellbeing, that every member is ministering to every other member, and occasionally, when they remember, to me. Church is a beautiful network of interdependent relationships that find their beginning, middle, and end in Jesus. The one thing we all have in common, all of us, is our faith in Jesus. Therefore, we’re all connected, all of us, and we’re all called to minister to each other. Had it not been for the ministry I’ve received this past twelve months, I’m sure things would have looked very different.
Maybe you feel like you don’t have much to add to the body, or you don’t contribute much to the family, or you’re not a key piece of the wall. You’re wrong. You do and you are. However, if you know that you don’t add much at the moment, it’s time to start. Consumer Christianity should not be a thing. We all share a common faith in Jesus, we’re all in-dwelt by the same Holy Spirit, and we’re all called to go forth and do the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
This past twelve months has brought into full focus the truth that church is a place of every member ministry. Not just the paid staff, not just the leaders of particular ministries, every member. This is how we are going to move forward. This is how we will return to, and surpass, all that we were before the 28th of February, 2020.
I will commit to you as the pastor-teacher. I will commit to doing everything I can for every member of our church in order to equip them for the work of ministry and to build them up. If you will commit to me, to us, then this church will be all that the Lord wants it to be.
It will be an unstoppable force for good in the community.
It will be a place where the Word of God is living and active.
It will be a place of strengthening, encouragement, and consolation for everyone who enters.
It will be a place where we will, in all things, grow up into Christ, who is the head. It’s from Him, from Jesus, that the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament, one another. As every member does their ministry, the body builds itself up in love.
This is how we are going to return to, and surpass, all that we were before the 28th of February, 2020. I will commit to you. Will you commit to us?
First step, let me know that you will and we will plot a course together for some every member ministry.