Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How May I Serve You?

I swear, regardless of denominational affiliation or the sizes of the congregation, Christians are the laziest people in the world. Part of my job at the church is recruiting volunteers. It’s amazing how quickly people become too busy to help you. Suddenly, something as simple as passing the offering plate becomes some all-consuming activity that does not allow them to help you out.

What I'm really bothered by are the people who are willing to come to a brainstorming session for a ministry, but they are unwilling to do the work to implement the ideas. Everyone thinks they are God’s gift to the church; they have all the answers to what we’re doing wrong, but they are unwilling to act on it.

I’m just venting. I don’t have it as bad as some people I know. I do have a handful of people who have been with the church from nearly the beginning who will do anything I need. They are quiet servants who are more than happy to go without recognition, and being around them is energizing.

It’s those lazy ones that just get to me. My friend Jim created a theory about church plants. You have the first wave of people who are passionate about the vision and will do anything that needs done. (Part of that is out of necessity because there are not a lot of people to do the work). The second wave are people who come and see the first wave doing everything and assume it is all getting done. (Many of these people are who I’m talking about. It’s not that they are unaware of ways they can help serve, it is more that they are unwilling to help serve.) Jim’s theory maintains that eventually there will be a third wave of people who will want to get involved.

[In the name of full disclosure, one thing I can definitely improve on is my ability to recognize potential leaders and empower them to lead in an area they are passionate about. I’m working on that.]

Is the problem all with me and my approach? (An answer I am fully prepared to accept as true.) Or is this unwillingness to serve a symptom of a bigger problem in Christianity? Have we become a people who are only content when things are being fed to us like we’re children?

In his book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Leslie Newbigin says “The priestly people needs a ministering priesthood to sustain and nourish it. Men and women are not ordained to this ministerial priesthood in order to take priesthood away from the people but in order to nourish and sustain the priesthood of the people. Just as we observe one day of the week as ‘the Lord’s Day,’ not in order that the other six days may be left to the devil but in order that they may all belong to the Lord; so we set apart a man or woman to a ministerial priesthood not in order to take away the priesthood of the whole body but to enable it.”

I believe that is true, but there are times that I wonder if too many Christians like the idea of a strong priesthood (or pastors) because they see it as an excuse for inaction. I don’t know how to change that. Maybe I don’t have to. Maybe my Transformational Leadership class this quarter will show me that I have been going about this the wrong way. Maybe I will finally learn how to develop the leaders for the future instead of simply finding the workers for the present. Maybe I will learn that every Christian desperately wants to be an active part of the mission of the church, they just need to be asked in the right way.