Can You Partner with Your Church?
Anyone can go to church, at least we can here in America. There’s no admission fee, no ticket required, no secret handshake (Unless they haven’t let me in on it. Uh oh. I wouldn’t be so paranoid if it weren’t for all those people out to get me!).
But when you move beyond just attending, church plays a vital role. I believe that when serious Christ-followers think about their church, they’re going to see it in one of two ways.
- Your church has a ministry to you and your family. You belong and you get your spiritual needs met through the church. You give money, and the church teaches your kids (and yourself) about faith; it helps the poor and it provides opportunities for you and your family to connect, grow, and thrive.
- Your church is your partner in following and serving Christ. You have the ball! You have the “monkey!” Your church is your teammate, your strength and conditioning coach, your motivational “pre-game” environment.
In the first option, the church is like a dry cleaner. You drive up and drop off your clothes. The dry cleaner does the work; you pay and leave with your clean clothes. The dry cleaner cleaned them. If your clothes are not done, or done right, you look back at the dry cleaner.
The second option is like the Laundromat. Just like before, you drive up. But here, you go in and choose from the tools given to you. You do the work; you interact with others who are going about the same work and you leave with your clean clothes.
See the difference?
Several years ago, a book called Revolution by George Barna made a huge statement to me. In essence, (and I’m paraphrasing here), there are/may be 180 million professing Christians in America. But there are/may be 22 million “revolutionaries.” As I recall, Barna's definition of a “revolutionary” is a Christ-follower who would live out the Faith on his or her own, even if there were no church!
That is a totally different paradigm for most people. Here’s what it means to me …
I am responsible for the discipline of my kids. The church is my partner, providing me resources and teaching consistent with my core beliefs. The church must be creative, engaging, authentic and relevant if it’s going to help me with my kids. The responsibility is mine and only mine, but I need the best help I can get in “people” resources (teachers, mentors, small group leaders), in training resources (videos, teachings, ‘take homes’) and in experiences.
I am responsible for being a “light” in my workplace, my neighborhood...and everywhere I go. I want my church to provide environments and opportunities to help me move my friends one step closer to a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. The church needs to give me the tool of a safe, relevant place for them to “enter” or “reenter” church. And I need a church that can connect me with great sermons, books, environments and online resources. My job isn’t “just try to get them to church;" my job is to try to “get them to Jesus.” I want a church that partners with me to do that.
Personal Spiritual Growth
I am responsible for growing in my faith and knowledge of the Lord. It’s up to me to read and study my Bible on my own…to seek truth and apply it. I want a church that will partner with me, teach me, stretch me and inspire me to “faith and good works”. But if I’m not growing or “being fed”, it’s my fault. There’s plenty of “spiritual food” out there and the Great Provider is eager for me to consume it.
The Poor and Disadvantaged
I am responsible for helping the poor, the widows and the orphans. If my church can help me, can be my partner, can “vet” new ministries and pool my time and resources with others, that’s great.
But, if my church is responsible for these people, then I’m not. If my church has the burden of the poor and I don’t, we’re not partners. This means the church has a ministry and I don’t. I’ve outsourced part of my responsibility as a Christ-follower. The church has become a vendor, not a partner.