It is easy to see problems and weakness in the church. And this is true for any local church. The flaws are so obvious. The body of Christ often seems sick, underfunded, under-appreciated, and ineffective. In fact, it is easier for us to complain than to do something to fix the problem.
I have heard pastors talk about the “90-10” phenomenon. This is the idea that 10% of the people do 90% of the work in the church. Overall, I don’t think this is accurate for a number of reasons. That is a topic for another time. But this idea points to an unfortunate reality. Large numbers of church goers are simply consumers. And they are doing exactly what they have been trained to do. Too many of the voices advising pastors focus on how to increase attendance by creating consumers. And sadly this includes offering services (entertainment, children’s programs, inspiration, etc) in order to get people to show up. We have done a good job at getting people to ask if their needs are being met. Too often, this results in crowds of people that expect to be served rather than an army mobilized for service and sacrifice.
When we look at scripture we see something different (Read Ephesians Chapter 4). We see that Christ has risen from the dead and given each member of his church gifts for the good of the body. We see that the savior is at work through his people to build one another up and prepare them for usefulness, both inside and outside of the church.
Ephesians 4:15-16 says this, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Each part of the body needs to be connected to Christ AND to one another. And when each part is working properly the body grows and builds itself up in love. That is easy enough to understand. When a person is healthy, all of their organs and body tissues are working together to maintain health and usefulness. When a doctor evaluates a sick person one of things they check is the health of the various body systems. Sick body parts make for a sick person.
Maybe the body is sick because some of its members are not connected? Maybe the body is sick because some of the body parts aren’t working properly so that the body cannot “build itself up in love?” If the church is weak and ineffective, maybe the reason is that the members of the body aren’t working for the health of the church?
The truth is, if you are a Christian, you have been entrusted with gifts and graces that the rest of the body desperately needs. Jesus has arranged the church so that we help to complete what is lacking in one another (Phil. 2:30). And he wants to work through you to make his body healthy.
If you see problems in your church (I see them in ours!) then the first step is to start with yourself. Are you functioning to promote the health of the body or are you acting like a consumer? I want to invite you to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.