In our final service we were able to baptize a new believer, dedicate three babies (and their parents), and graduate 10 from the Foundations Bible Study program. On top of that, we had a traditional Latin “despedida” as our people brought some of the best Hispanic food in south Florida! It was a tremendous night.
I am convinced that as pastors we have not been doing our job correctly. Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am trying to say. I realize that there are many who question how much work pastors really do, including some in my own extended family! But, my point is not that pastors don’t work, many of us work way too many hours. My assertion is not that we don’t work, but that we have been ministering incorrectly and thus ineffectively.
Let me quickly backtrack for a moment and say that I cannot and should not speak for all pastors. That would be extremely ignorant and very presumptuous. I am certain that there are many ministers and churches that have grasped what the Lord is showing me and have already put it into practice. Nevertheless, after more than 25 years in ministry, I am afraid that those churches and those men of God are the exception and not the norm.
What is our problem? We do too much ministry. Now, that might seem like a contradictory statement. You might ask, “aren’t pastor’s supposed to be doing ministry? Isn’t their job to preach, pray, save the lost, visit the sick, and organize the church?” Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, we have become so good at doing those things that we have failed to train others to do them as well.
Paul said in Ephesians 4:11, 12 – Now these are the gifts that Christ gave to the church: The apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the Church, the body of Christ.
Did you catch that? Our job is not necessarily to do all the work, but to equip God’s people to do His work. When we insist on being the coach, quarterback, running back and linebacker, we greatly limit what God can accomplish through His Church. Not only that, but we fail to realize that there are others who can do the work of the ministry better than us.
Do you agree with my assessment? I would love to hear from you. Check back in the next few days and I continue my conversation on what it will take to move our churches from “Me Churches” to “We Churches.”
* The idea of “Me to We” was taken from a book that Alan Nelson wrote in 2007 by that same title.
In a recent Newsweek article, Lisa Miller boldly states that America is no longer a Christian nation. You can find the article in the August 31 edition of Newsweek magazine or at this link http://www.newsweek.com/id/212155. Miss Miller states that “although America was founded by Christians, and according to a 2008 survey, 76 percent of us continue to identify as Christian,” most American’s spiritual beliefs are more in line with the Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, than they are with the Word of God. I would encourage you to read this brief article. it is eye opening to say the least.
Lisa Miller’s statement is reinforced by recent surveys and polling data. For example, a 2008 Pew Forum survey showed that 65% of Americans believe that there are many roads that lead to heaven, including 37% of Evangelical Christians. Sadly, in this post-modern age, most people prefer a deli approach to religion and spirituality. In other words, they would prefer to pick and choose what works the for them. There are no spiritual absolutes; there are no orthodox beliefs.
How should we as Christians respond to such a denial of orthodox Christianity and biblical truth? First of all, the Church needs to reassume its responsibility to teach doctrinal truth. Twelve times in his letters to Timothy, Paul exhorts his young student as to the importance of correct doctrine. As a matter of fact, Paul repeatedly uses the phrase, “sound doctrine.”
Some contemporary Evangelical leaders are realizing the value of a return to strong doctrinal teaching. Addressing this exact point, Ravi Zacarias has said, “The problem with America today is not America. It is the Church. We have become very shallow as Christians, very shallow. We have become masters at engineering feelings without much thought. Very little thinking goes on at Church.”
Secondly, as believers, we must realize that we are the spiritual hope of our country. We must be determined and committed to letting our spiritual light shine. Jesus said in Matthew 5:15, “no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.” Let me be clear, our responsibility is not to protest those who disagree with us, or fight with those who believe differently. The best way for us to counter ungodliness is with a godly life. May God help us to live in such a way that we continue to influence our neighbors, our co-workers, and our country to be guided by biblical beliefs and Christian values.