If there is one thing I have learned during my years in ministry it is this: it is always my fault. If a service isn’t good enough, it is my fault. If a special event isn’t good enough, it is my fault. If people aren’t serving God like they should, it is my fault. If someone leaves the church, it is my fault. If a guest feels unwelcome, it is my fault. If people aren’t moving in the gifts of the Spirit during the service, it is my fault. If someone is addicted to alcohol, it is my fault. If someone is in a failing marriage, it is my fault. People are always so quick to put all the blame on their pastors. If things for them aren’t going right, then the leadership staff of the church must be to blame. You may sit there thinking that this can’t really be the case. Just think about most of the conversations you have had with someone about why they left a church. They usually have a main reason that starts with either, “The pastor was….” or “The music was….” I’ve been working in the ministry for 7 years now, and I can tell you that the reason most people leave churches has nothing to do with the pastor or the music. So where does that leave us?
I think it leaves us with a convoluted picture of what church is. Most people see church as a place for them. It is a place that they should be able to go and get what they need. It is a place where they go to get spiritually recharged. We get so selfish when we go to church. We want the music to move us. We want the pastor’s message to speak directly to us. We want someone to listen to all of our problems. We want someone to take care of all of our problems. It is all about us and what we want. With this view we believe that pastors are the church. This picture of church couldn’t be much further than what it is supposed to be.
In 1 Corinthians 12:24-30, Paul says, ” But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
It isn’t just pastors that are the church, we all are. God has given us all responsibilities. Was I being sarcastic and mocking when earlier when I said it was all my fault? No, I was being honest. But I’m not the only one, you are also to blame. Not only is it my fault, it is your fault.
When is the last time you went to church thinking, “I hope I am used in the service to bless someone”? When is the last time you went to church expecting to give instead of receive? Ephesians 4:16 says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Please note that this verse does not say as the pastor does their work. It says as EACH part does its work. Whether we are in leadership staff or not, you and I have a role to play in our church. And in order for the church to be healthy we must each do our part. If you see something that you don’t like in your church, what are you doing to fix it? If you wish there were more guests coming each week, then who are you inviting? If you wish more people were dancing during worship, then how are you leading the way? If you wish more people would lay hands on others, then who are you praying for? If you wish more people gave their life to Jesus, then who are you sharing the gospel with? It’s time to stop passing blame and start taking responsibility.
The hardest part of taking responsibility is it means we actually have to live for Jesus. If our Sunday morning church service is our time to recharge, then we will never be used during the service to bless anyone else. So that means we have to do the charging on our own. It means that we actually have to spend time during the week in prayer, in God’s word and in His presence. Here is a crazy thought: spend time in prayer on Sunday morning before you go to church. “But Nick I am already going to spend a couple hours with God at church, why would I want to spend more time beforehand?” So that you can be prepared for God to use you. It’s time to accept that you are part of a body, and you may be crippling it.
A couple weeks ago I jammed my thumb and index finger on my right hand playing football. It was really annoying. For the next week I struggled just to grip objects with my right hand. Even pulling up the emergency brake on my car was painful. I couldn’t open any twist bottles with that hand. It made things a lot more difficult. I’m sure everyone reading this can think of a time when they have injured a part of their body and it made life difficult. Are you doing that to the body of Christ? Are you the part of the body that is making life more difficult for the rest? Are you the part of the body that the rest of the body is dragging along hoping one day it will actually pitch in and do its share of the work? We have to come to the revelation that church is not for you, it is you. We all play a role. The only way to get a better church is to get a better you.
You can complain about the church you go to all you want. But if all you ever do is hop from church to church and complain you will never find a church you like. Until you step up and starting being the church you will never be satisfied. At some point you have to realize it is all your fault. So let’s step up, stop passing blame, humble ourselves, accept responsibility, and be the church!
until next time…