A few Sundays ago I talked about the issue of serving the Kingdom of Christ in tangible ways as an important issue when it comes to raising our children and having a healthy home. Helping our children develop hearts that serve Christ is critical to their spiritual development.
But let me remind you that “serving” is an issue that every church struggles with as well. The statistics tell us that 20% of the people who attend a church do 80% of the work. That continues to be an issue as we head into fall (which marks a start of a new ministry year). Every fall brings multiple opportunities to serve Christ in very tangible ways – nursery, kids’ teachers, youth leaders, Wednesday night meal prep/servers, greeters and the list goes on and on.
Having been active in churches for the last 30-plus years, I believe times have changed. I remember sitting in high school classes that told us that the average work week would shrink to 30-hour weeks. It would free up time to volunteer to worthwhile causes, have more vacations and increase family time.
The hard fact is that since 2001 the average work week for a full-time employed person has remained constant at just under 47 hours per week. While the work week has stayed the same, our culture has changed, our churches have changed, and people’s expectations about attending and serving have made a subtle shift. Churches are finding it far more difficult to provide discipleship ministries that can thrive because there simply aren’t enough people to staff them.
Let me be straight forward on some of the shifts that I have read about and seen over the last 15-20 years:
- We have an aging church population where the mentality has shifted toward an attitude of, “I have done my time, now it is someone else’s turn to serve.”
- There is a phenomenon that when churches begin to get bigger and grow, the belief grows that there are plenty of other people that will meet that ministry need.
- There is more time and money directed at vacations and the plethora of children’s activities in which parents want their children to be a part of. The result: the average “committed church attender” only attends their home church less than 50% of the weekends per year.
- We have a growing level of consumerism that is having a deep impact on the church. It is reflected in a single attitude, while not verbalized, that says, “I want to keep my options open, so therefore I can’t commit to _______.”
Here is the hard part as a pastor—I realize that trying to guilt people into serving rarely works. I believe everyone, including myself, must personally struggle with the issue of serving and how does that fit with my life?
Here is where the scripture from that Sunday is still relevant for today. In John 13, the night before Jesus goes to the cross, he gets up and washes his disciples’ dirty feet. He drives home a point that every person who is a follower of Christ must wrestle with. Listen to the words of Jesus…
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Here is the main application from that passage- if we say that Jesus is Lord and he is the one we follow, then the mandate to serve Christ and serve each other and serve the kingdom is not an option, it is the “mark” of a disciple.
The goal of Jesus wasn’t to guilt them to serve, it was a matter of fact statement about being a follower of Christ.
So… any thoughts as to how we connect the words of Jesus to the trends of what is happening within the church? I know this is true: serving adds to our spiritual growth; it models to our kids that we are genuine followers of Christ; and it reveals that we have a growing love for Christ.
Would you please prayerfully consider your part in meeting our serving needs this fall? On Sunday, August 26 we will have many ministries set up in the foyer to answer your questions and give you an opportunity to learn more and, if the Spirit moves you, to sign up to begin serving.
I’m praying that we as a church would be “fully devoted followers of Christ.”
Trying to Serve the Kingdom,