Monday, June 28, 2010

Spiritual Warfare...By Sweeping!

Every believer has a gift to be used in their local church. Every believer is a body part with a specific function in their local church. There are chores, there are jobs, there are things to be done in each church for the glory of God.

Something many believers may not have ever realized is that when they do not do their job, someone else in the church will have to do their own job PLUS the one that is being neglected. Imagine a leg in the body trying to also function as an arm and an ear (because those parts didn't show up, or just show up to 'watch'). The leg is trying to walk, but is also picking things up and holding them...and also straining to hear what is being said. What will happen to this leg over time?  Burnout.  It was designed to walk, not do the other jobs. When someone in the church clocks out, others must do their job plus the one that is being neglected.

Let's be honest. Who does this normally fall to?  Who usually does the jobs that are being neglected?  The pastor. This is one reason there are so many pastors burning out all over the place.  Sometimes it is the pastor's fault, because he thinks he has to do everything. Other times it is the congregation's fault, because they are lazy.  Either way, who suffers in this situation?  Everyone suffers!

The pastor suffers because he is burned out. Each member suffers because they were not designed by God to do nothing! And the overall church suffers because false doctrine soon creeps in. Why?  Because the pastor is not prayed up and studied up (distracted from trying to do everything); so the church is fed a steady diet of watered-down preaching. Over time this allows false doctrine to enter the church!  So we have burned-out pastors preaching watered-down teachings to lazy congregations who, over time, will lose their grip on the gospel.  Wow.

This was the strategy of Satan in Acts 6:1-8.  Some widows were being overlooked in the food distribution. The text seems to imply that the church wanted the apostles to take care of it. But they answer "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables" (v2). Someone must have said that it was right for them to do it, for them to give this kind of reply. "Let the preacher handle it." "These apostles need to stop running around everywhere preaching, and roll up their sleeves and get to work."  Ever heard that kinda stuff before?

What was the apostles' solution to the problem? Share the ministry!  Appoint some men to take care of this matter, "but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (v4).  This served as the precedent for the church later establishing the office of Deacon. This is God's idea, not man's. There are recognized servants in the church to help share the ministry and keep the teachers from having to do everything.

But there are not only recognized Deacons in biblical churches; every believer is a minister! God's plan is that we all do our part rather than leaving every job for the preachers in the church.  Who are these preachers? Local church elders! The 12 Apostles were given Christ's gospel. They wrote it down in the New Testament. And they established elders in local churches to continue the apostles' doctrine by teaching the word.  These local pastor-teachers are to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).  So the pastors devote themselves, like the apostles, to prayer and the ministry of the word, and the saints do the work of ministry!  Everyone is doing their part!

Have you ever realized that by doing something as simple as sweeping the meeting place of the church - you are protecting the church from false doctrine??!  Using your gift, working according to your function, and just helping in the chores and work of the church (both big things and 'small' things) frees up the preacher to pray and study and preach the word, which protects the church's grip on the gospel long-term.  Hallelujah! 

Are you doing your part? Are you freeing up your pastor to do his part (and not everyone else's part)?
Whatever our function in the church, let's get to work for the glory of Christ in the church!!!

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