“What’s in It for Me?” Church
Dr. Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He has spent most of his life studying local churches. One of the real problems he has seen develops when church members have a “What’s in it for me?” mentality. This leads to an expectation that the church exists to serve me and meet my needs. Rainer notes, “It’s our nature to be selfish. It’s our nature to want others to serve us rather than be the servants. So how do we make the change to live wisely among our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ? Is it just a matter of stiffening our resolve and willing ourselves to serve whether we like it or not?”1
Is that how it’s done? Get a stiff upper lip and plow on through to serve?
Not exactly. This is why we need to change the culture in the church.
A New Culture
This new culture is a biblical culture, centered on Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Jesus humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. This King of Glory willingly gave up His rights and prerogatives in order to come into a small Middle Eastern country in the first century to serve others. He ultimately laid down His life in service to His Father on behalf of everyone in the world. Jesus Christ is the ultimate servant.
Jesus, while speaking about leadership, indicated to His disciples that true leaders are those who serve everyone. “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be the first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many.”2
God expects serving to be the norm for His people. Those who are discipled are like the Master. Since the Master was a joyful servant, so shall His disciples be.
This culture of service is counter-cultural to the “what’s in it for me” church.
Serving Together With Joy Connects People
The Psalmist recognized the connection between joy and serving. “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.”3 If we find joy and service to be disconnected, there is a good chance we aren’t viewing service from God’s perspective.
In the local church, people connect through serving. There is a level of connection that happens in small group communities. But there is a different level of connection when those people serve together. Striving toward a goal and working in concert for the glory of God binds people together in a way that few other things will.
Do you want to connect with people in your church? Serve in some way. Volunteer as an usher, parking lot attendant, choir or praise team member, preschool helper, small group leader, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, food pantry organizer, and scores of other opportunities. Don’t be an observer! Be a contributor. Make your church a better place for someone else to visit! You will find your connection with people – and God – grows stronger.
1– Bible Studies for Life, Connected, Thom Rainer
2– Mark 10:42-45, HCSB
3– Psalm 100:2, HCSB
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