Bulk up the Church?
I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream and I was prompted to get up and blog it.
In my dream I was invited to attend a church committee meeting. I was seated at a large circle of tables and there were approximately 40-50 people in attendance. The group appeared to be comprised of men and women over the age of 50. This was an African American church and I was the only Caucasian person in the room. I do not believe that color has anything to do with the message in this dream, however I think the age of the group may. We were eating a dinner that had been served to us and the conversation was a round table discussion entitled “Bulk up (or fill up) the Church.” They were tossing around various ideas for bringing people into their Sunday services. Their ideas included family fun days, fliers, door-to-door invitations, mailers, a weekly dinner night, etc….. They were all good ideas to invite people to come to their church.
As I listened to the discussion escalate into a flurry of ideas with an increase in volume from time to time, my mind began to ponder the title of the meeting: “Bulk up the Church.” A momentary pause took place at which time I asked, “By show of hands, how many ministry leaders are in this room?” One lady across the room raised her hand. The Pastor was also in the room, so he counted as a 2nd ministry leader. So then I asked, “By show of hands, how many of you are actively and consistently serving a ministry in your church?” Two other hands were raised. This quickly told me that out of 40-50 concerned members of the church, only 8% of them were actually “serving” or “functioning” in the church. This percentage was mostly likely going to be lower if the entire church was polled.
I then told them that it occurred to me that the meeting had been mislabeled. In reality what they were attempting to do was to “fatten up” the church, which apparently had already been accomplished. I asked, “What about making disciples? What about iron sharpening iron? What about the older teaching the younger. Who is teaching your Sunday School classes? Are kids teaching kids because there are no adults willing to step into a place of leadership? Who will serve in men’s or women’s ministries? What about your teenagers?”
Then I explained that when you have only 8% of a congregation serving or in leadership (which should also be a place of service not delegation) you have a “fat” church. They are not exercising their faith and flexing their spiritual muscles, they are simply a house full of sucklings. They come in like puppies and kittens at feeding time and leave when they are filled only to return again next week, if all is right with the world, the weather is good and they make it out of bed on time. They are all different ages and levels of spiritual maturity, but none the less they come to be served. A congregation without active, serving people cannot handle an influx of more people. If you want to bulk up your church, then get your people off their pew and get them to function as God intended. There are no age limits on service. The young are not too young, and the older generations are not supposed to retire from doing the work of God. When the church is flexing its muscles, then it is strong enough to help the world around it and invite more into their house.
I woke up.
Maybe this is for you, the reader. If you are a fat puppy or kitten, maybe it’s time to get up and function. Maybe this is for your church leadership to consider. I don’t know who it’s for, but I know God wouldn’t let me just roll over and go back to sleep. (yep, there’s a whole new message in that statement about the church needing to wake up, but we won’t go there today) So what does serving look like? Do you need to go start a new ministry to run? No, not unless you are called by God to do so. But look around at the ministries currently in place. How can you plug in?
Here are some practical ideas:
Offer to help in the church office copying and stuffing envelopes, etc
Bless your pastors with cards, gifts (they NEED encouragement)
Greeter Ministries always need volunteers
Parking lot attendants
Set up tables and chairs for a weekly meetings
Bake cookies for a hospitality part of a ministry
Arrive early and make coffee and set up hospitality tables
Sunday school teachers & assistants
Youth group meeting mentors, chaperones
Mentors for men or women younger in the faith
Big brother or sister programs
If you cannot find a place to plug in, seek counsel from your church leadership. Don’t assume everything is covered just because you don’t see a need. Your current church leadership is probably more overwhelmed than you know.
Be blessed to be a blessing!