A man is an elder only if his character and spiritual labor say so.
That means every elder is an elder before he is an elder. Every legitimate elder shows himself qualified in character and competence before being appointed to the office. This brief essay will focus on competence.
Before the pandemic, my wife and I were balcony dwellers at church. A throwback to a time when our Sunday school class would all sit together, on high, in the balcony. A great place to watch all the movements below and be hidden from the pastor’s view due to the bright lights.
Unnecessary Explanatory Note: We have stayed in the balcony due to the ease of finding seats. When you serve, easy seat access is a plus.
Since we have returned to church from the dark pandemic times, Tab and I have sat downstairs. Free from Sunday school, serving, and any other positions we may hold, we have been free to just attend… to just be.
Sitting where we have been sitting, I have smiled to myself many a time. You see, church goers joke about members having assigned seating. When I say joke, I speak of a partial truth. One of those things that is awkwardly grinned at but often experienced in the form of a wordless glare. The “Hey, why are you sitting in my seat” glare. But why are you talking about assigned seating and “the glare”, Bryan?
On the other side of COVID-19, everything is new at church. Months of not meeting together have erased ingrained habits. We’ve had to figure out what the church looks like when it does not meet; We’ve had to figure out what church looks like when it does meet with a lurking virus.
My key here is that the old is gone. The boardgame has been reset. New habits, even those as small as seating, are allowed to begin anew.
- I have loved being able to talk with those I didn’t normally see by sitting in the balcony.
- I have loved feeling more a part of the worship service, not so distant–proximity is huge–.
- I have loved the feeling of a new beginning.
As we experience a reset of the old norms, I want to encourage you to shake things up. Talk to those you didn’t talk to before. Allow yourself to experience the Body of Christ in a whole new way.
Leaders are called to lead and leading means making decisions. As it relates to worship services within our church, some people will be thrilled if we choose to remain outdoors for the next three months. Others will be frustrated if we choose to endure the July and August heat outdoors in Camden, SC. Neither decision is morally superior to the other, but either decision will be judged right by some and wrong by others.
I have loved watching my own church pivot in this crisis. Embracing technology as a way to bring us all together.
Some churches that never even recorded their sermons were able, in no time, to livestream their services, to provide ways to do youth group Bible studies via Zoom, and maintain prayer chains through texting and social media. Churches without even a website address found ways to enable their people to give their offerings online. Some churches had to find a way to vote on calling a new pastor with online voting or drive-through affirmations.
This sort of creativity will not end. The fact is that though many, if not most, churches can plan for a “re-opening” some time in the foreseeable future, in almost every case, this will not mean dropping live-streaming and other forms of connection but adding in-person gatherings to what we are doing now.
I was recently listening to a podcast when the host presented a thought:
The Church is more concerned with getting people plugged into the organization’s ministries (children’s ministry, youth ministry, greeter ministry, etc.). And is far less concerned about equipping believers to minister in their everyday lives.
This thought of competing ministries, the Church versus the believer, floored me. Made me shake my head for a moment. You see, by serving within the local church, we have a safe place to learn how to minister to others. As we learn how to minister to others in the church, we can take that experience and apply it to our lives. Think of it as building spiritual service muscle memory. I then use this muscle memory as I go throughout my week.
Service has taught me a few things:
- That no task, big or small, is beneath me.
- To slow down and listen even when it feels inconvenient.
I do not see my church as a ministry competitor. I see my church as a partner, a group of people God is using to develop me. He uses situations that arise to challenge my ways of thinking. Situations that cause me to pray and ask discernment. God uses our churches to grow us in the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
What about you? Do you think that the Church is more concerned about itself versus helping/equipping believers? AND/OR What has God taught you about serving in the church that you then take into your daily life?