Spectator vs. Ministry: Which One Results in Growth?


Spectator members are one of the biggest problems in churches today. Every member is responsible for ministry. Ministry unifies, connects, and grows the church. Do you know what your role in your church is?

Bible Studies for Life

I enjoy sports, but I am a football fanatic.

There are sports fans and then there are sports fans! The first group is made up of those who buy a ticket, go to the game, watch the action, and cheer when their team makes a good play. After the game, they go home and go to work the next day.

The second group buys season tickets, goes to the game three hours early, cooks hotdogs on a tailgate grill, buys a hat, jersey, foam finger, and possibly paints themselves team colors to match the jersey. They cheer in the stands until the final play and, if their team wins, cannot wait to see the highlights and commentary on SportsCenter.

But even with all of that, they are not players. They remain fans.

There is No Such Thing as Spectator Members in the Church

Dr. Thom Rainer writes of this phenomenon: “I am a fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Notice I did not say I am a member of the Crimson Tide – there’s a difference. I don’t go to spring practices and work out with the team. I don’t study game films or discuss plays with the coaches. On game day, I don’t get on the field and help the team move the ball across the goal line. That’s not my job. I’m a fan – a spectator.”1

Spectator members are one of the biggest problems in churches today. Members are to minister, and all members are to minister. The Bible knows nothing of spectator church members. In order to move beyond spectator Christianity, it is important for every member to know his or her role in the church and do it.

Ministry is the Responsibility of Each Christ-Follower

The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that God had established leaders in the church. Among these leaders are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. He also established why these leaders had been given: “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”2 No one is being trained to look around; everyone is being trained to minister.

Ministry is the responsibility of every believer. A very significant part of ministry is that we are connected by the growth that takes place. Ministry is rarely, if ever, for the benefit of an individual. In fact, as Paul makes clear, the work of ministry leads to the building of the body of Christ. That body includes many members.

Paul continues with the extent of such ministry in verse 13, “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Notice we are “growing into a mature man.” Ministry results in building, which results in unity as a result of growth.

Ministry Unifies, Connects, and Grows

Ministry unifies, connects, and grows the church. Ministry is a unifier and a connector. If you are a member of a church, pray for God to open a door of ministry opportunity for you. Talk to someone in leadership and ask them where your gifts, talents, and passions can best be used. You will be connected to other members of the body. You will grow, so will those you minister with, and God will be glorified.

1– Bible Studies for Life, Connected, Dr. Thom Rainer
2– Ephesians 4:12 (HCSB)


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