by: Terry Pauling
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –Mark 10:45
Last month, I shared with you briefly three things that make any business a success: Take care of the Team, Serve the Customers, Make a Profit. Over the next three months, I want to explore each of these in more detail. As we are slowly getting back to the way things used to be, there are some things that could be more focused.
One of those things is how we view the purpose and function of church membership. Too often, we think of church membership as something we are owed or a right that we have earned. We feel entitled to certain rights and privileges based upon how many years we’ve been here or how much time, money, and energy we’ve given over the years. We wrongly expect the church staff (pastor, secretary, or DCE) or the Church Council (president, record-keeper, treasurer, board chairpeople) to devise ways to meet our perceived needs and keep the congregation healthy.
I say “wrongly expect” because St. Paul clearly states the role of these servants in Ephesians 4:11-12: “And he [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Paul says that the purpose of the staff and leaders of a church is to equip the saints, the ordinary people in the pew, for the works of ministry. It is not intended that these servants do ministry to or for us but instead that they do ministry with us, equipping everyone for their part in the body of Christ, the Church.
To be a member at Mt. Calvary is a means to an end, not an end to itself. Membership in a Christian congregation means that I am part of the eternal ministry of Christ; I have a role to play in proclaiming the forgiveness of sins to a world that desperately needs to hear this message. It means that I am part of a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Likewise, Taking Care of the Team is a means to an end, not an end to itself. If a congregation exists only to take care of itself, it will have about a much success as a store where the only customers are the people who work at the store. It’s important that we Take Care of the Team so that the Team, the Church, can join with the Holy Spirit in His ministry of proclaiming the excellencies of God to build up the body of Christ.
Pastor Tom Vanderbilt