As I was listening to one of my gazillion course lectures on management and leadership approaches it occurred to me that while the goal of every church pastor and lay leader is 100% participation in ministry by the congregation as a whole, this is not a realistic expectation. Reality dictates the ol’ 20/80 rule – you have 20% of the congregation doing 80% of the work. And as Christians, whether we’re currently serving in a ministry area or not, that ratio should create a bit of discomfort in our posterior.
Let’s think about that in terms of our regular 9 to 5 jobs – you know, the ones we get paid to do. How would you like it if only 20% of the people in your office were doing 80% of the work, while the other 80% could only bring themselves to do 20% of the work the rest of the time? That’s like saying that 4 out of 5 of the people you work with only have to work one day a week, while YOU have to work all 5 days of the week, making sure that you’re not only doing your job but also carrying the work loads for the other 4 slackers. I don’t know about you, but if that were my office I’d be considering a career change. The fact is, no one wants to feel like they’re doing all the work all the time, and yet, when it comes to spiritual matters that’s the reality. And sadly, you may very well fit into the 80% slacker category in your church.
I’m not trying to point fingers or come across in a harsh and haughty manner, you might be the exception to the rule. However, the real-time principle I pointed out in the last paragraph of the office workers applies here too – 4 out of 5 people who read this post do not, are not, will not, and have not participated in some form of ministry or volunteer role in their church within the last year (if ever).
Ministry participation is a scary word, I’ll admit. The first thought that comes to my mind is always an overwhelmed, under trained, burned out and otherwise frazzled children’s Sunday school teacher, or the harried VBS worker. But ministry service isn’t always about leadership, teaching, or preaching to the masses, many times ministry service can be something as simple as picking up the communion cups between service, emptying the garbage, mowing the lawn, washing windows, organizing the mail, answering the phone, folding bulletins, holding the front doors open on Sunday mornings, maintaining the flags, moving chairs, setting up or tearing down for productions or dinners, etc. There are dozens if not hundreds of ways in which we can volunteer a little or a lot of our time to our local church, thus involving us in some type of ministry.
You see, no where do I read in the Bible God calling people to be pew sitters, bumps on logs, or other wise riders of the ol’ pine pony. The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The operatives in this commission are: GO, BAPTIZE, TEACH, and OBEY. And for those of you who aren’t English majors, these are known as verbs, and verbs are action words!
Jesus was a man of action; we see that example all through the four Gospels – he was always doing something. He called men who would also become men of action – we see that in his training of the Disciples and their work once he had ascended into Heaven. And we are called to follow Christ’s example, just as his first disciples did; therefore, we are called to be a people of action.
No job is too small, no task too insignificant, no responsibility is too menial in the service of the King. I once heard a great theologian say, “If there is a job you believe is beneath you, then that’s the job you need to volunteer for first.” Okay, I’ll admit it, no great theologian said that, it was me – all me, which is why its not very profound, but it doesn’t change its effectiveness. So where are you right now in your spiritual walk? Where are you in your ministry walk? Are you serving in some aspect, whether large or small in your local church? There is much work to be done, so what are you waiting for?