A young reporter once asked a college football coach how the game of football had contributed to the health and fitness of Americans. He replied, “It hasn’t contributed at all.” The reporter was mystified. He said, “What do you mean?” The coach replied, “Football is where you have 22 men on the field that desperately need rest, and 67,000 people in the stands that desperately need exercise!”
I hate to say it, but that might be a very good description of a lot of churches! Some people go to church the way you or I might go to a Sooners’ game. We cheer from the stands, but we never put on a helmet or pick up a football.
What the Bible teaches is that when you gather with the church here on Sundays, you are putting on a uniform and jogging out onto the field. You are in the game. And the game is being played here every Sunday. Every single Christian is to be involved in the work of ministry.
Sometimes we hear someone asking a Pastor, Priest or Preacher, “So when did you go into the ministry?”
The moment you were baptized, you went into the ministry.
Every Christian is in the ministry, not just full-time professional church leaders. Church is not a spectator sport.
If your involvement in a church is such that you show up and passively watch what goes on, but never get involved in serving, you are involved in something that is completely foreign to our New Testament!
One of the most crippling ideas to pervade the church over the centuries is that there is a special class of Christians called the “clergy” that do the ministry, while all the “laity” sit back and watch them do it.
This concept is completely unbiblical.
Yes, it is true, God does call some members of the church to function in a different role than others, by granting them special gifts. However, that does not make them the “ministers” and the rest of the church “non-ministers.”
Years ago, one of my former OBU prof. Rev. Dr. Dale Rolland—said that every clergy person should place outside their door this sign “Equipment Room.”
He has the notion that "Every Member in Ministry." Crazy, I tell you.
Because my experience in the church is that many are in ministry… but not everyone.
But he tells the members that commitment is at the heart of membership because it is essential for being a family. In fact, commitment is the difference between being a member of the Concord Baptist Church family or a person who simply attends.
"Every member makes two commitments when joining our church family: a commitment to Jesus Christ and a commitment to support the Concord Baptist Church family through prayers, presence, gifts and service…Volunteering is important at Concord.
Members are not recruited to do specific ministries. Ministry happens because volunteers desire to fulfill God’s purposes in their lives."
Did you hear that last part? Ministry happens because volunteers desire to fulfill God’s purposes in their lives. Isn’t that really the heart of it? Ministry is less about the church’s need for volunteers and more about the need for our members to live lives that fulfill God’s purposes in their lives.
I believe God has given every one a passion for a particular form of ministry. You may or may not know what that is… discernment is needed. But you are still called.
I would love for SAC to have a vision where everyone who becomes a member understands that part of that membership means that they will be involved in ministry. Everyone is a minister… not just the deacon or the priests. Everyone.
This past Holy Week, I thought about Todd, Marian, James, Renee and Claren working outside sweating to provide a beautiful landscape setting for us to enjoy on Easter Sunday.
Sometimes I imagine, what if no one volunteered to beautify the landscape? What impression would visitors have of us?
Who would do the planning and leading if people didn’t serve on committees?
Oh, I know some complain about committees, but where would we be if no one did the thinking and planning for our work? Everyone who gets involved in the church is contributing to the common good. Thank God!
And where would our community and world be if people didn’t minister outside OKC? Serving on boards that help the community… volunteering at places like the Jesus House, the Dolese, American Fidelity, the Mettise Group, Board of Directors at Valparaiso, teaching medical students, scouts, giving blood so others can live… taking Meals on Wheels to the elderly…picking up the trash… being a part of service organizations.
Where would we be if people did not seek to serve God in their vocations… to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives in their jobs?
Have you ever thought about how your vocation can serve the common good?
For some, I know becoming involved is hard. It is clear to me that there are those who wish to be more involved but we have not always responded to those efforts or heard them well. That saddens me.
It is clear that sometimes people have a hard time breaking into ministry where there is an established group. That saddens me.
For others, the obstacles are their own… too little time… not sure what they may have to offer… and "fear.”
Anytime we try something new there is an element of fear… fear of failure…fear of acceptance… fear of getting in over my head.
If we can find some way to overcome those obstacles… and focus on how we might fulfill God’s purposes for our lives and the life of this congregation… imagine the possibilities.
~ Fr. Joseph Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.