You and your church
In Matthew 16, Jesus established His church. Surrounded by temples to pagan gods, Jesus gave His disciples a pop test about His identity.
“Who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Matthew 16:17-18 records, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven . . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’”
Jesus intended His church to storm the gates of Hell, to be on the offensive, to penetrate spiritual darkness with the Light of the world. Yet, most churches have retreated into their shell, focused inwardly instead of externally, and are filled with members who think the church exists for them rather than for those who are not yet there.
Too often we hear about what’s wrong with the church. Church scandals make the headlines. Church splits leave life-long scars. Leaders disappoint. Yet, Jesus left His mission in the hands of the church.
James Emery White is founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C. Twice weekly, he writes a blog entitled “Church and Culture.” Last Thursday’s was entitled “You and Your Church.”
He suggested that we concentrate on what any single individual, in any particular church, can do to help his or her church to reach its Christ-intended potential.
“Isn’t that what all of us will answer for at the end of our lives anyway? Not what others did, but what we did?” he wrote.
White listed 12 things an individual can do to help the church progress:
1. Embody the idea that it’s not about you, but about the person who isn’t even there yet. Be a willing participant in whatever it might take to reach them, even if it means you are inconvenienced.
2. Be generous with your financial resources. How much ministry can you do for $1? Help your church do all that it can by giving all that you can.
3. Invite your unchurched friends. Really, it’s the only way your church can grow through the unchurched.
4. Step up and serve. Don’t wait to be asked; just volunteer. If it looks like everything is covered, trust me, it’s not.
5. Leaders and teachers are desperately needed. Please let your church know if this is in your gift mix, and that you, as a more mature follower of Christ, are willing to serve in these pivotal roles.
6. Give your pastor an umbrella of grace for all that they aren’t and pray for them on a regular basis. They can’t walk on water, but they can drown.
7. Realize that those on your church’s staff do not get a thousand emails a day giving them encouragement. Most of the people who bother to email do so to critique. Send them a word to feast on to keep them going.
8. As a volunteer, or simply as an attender, show up and be on time. Repeat: Show up and be on time. You have no idea how much this matters.
9. Talk about your church like gossip over the backyard fence, but in a good way. Like a great movie you saw, or a good restaurant. Unleash positive public relations in your neighborhood and community.
10. Work hard on having a positive attitude of a cup half-full instead of a cup half-empty. You’ll be surprised how contagious it is.
11. Handle friction and disagreement in a way that honors God, which means handle it biblically (Matthew 18:15). Practice the habit of “agreeing to disagree agreeably.”
12. Welcome those who come into your church with messed-up lives, screwed-up marriages, piercings, tattoos, addictions, divorce, homosexual orientation, children out of wedlock, roommates that aren’t their spouse . . . in other words, welcome everyone’s differences and scandals with a greater scandal of grace. Not affirmation, but always acceptance.
It’s the Jesus way, White wrote.
Finally, pray, pray, pray for your pastor, staff, and church. And remember what Jesus said: “I will build my church.” It’s not my church. It belongs to Jesus.
David L. Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. each Sunday. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org.