A youth Sunday School teacher asked her students to use their Sunday afternoon to write a letter to God. The letters were then returned to her the following Sunday. One little boy wrote, “Dear God, we had a good time at church today. Wish you could have been there.”
While most people will chuckle at that little story, those of us who know the ins and outs of church work might think the boy’s comment hits a little too close to home. Does God truly have a voice in every decision that gets made in our churches? Uh, no, I can’t say that He does. Does His full measure of support rest upon everything that we do in our churches? Again, I’d have to answer no on that.
Truth be told, the problem with church work is the problem with church workers. I could write a book on this subject, but for the purposes of this post let me just list five of the problems that any church faces in regards to church work (or church workers):
- So much of what we today call church work has no Biblical basis. For example, try to find a passage where the apostle Paul lays out the qualifications for a nursery worker, a chairman of the Building & Grounds committee, a choir director, or a church secretary. Trust me, such passages do not exist. I’m not saying that all of these roles (and others like them) can’t possibly be of God because they aren’t mentioned in scripture. I’m just pointing out that things get debatable pretty quickly anytime we can’t consult scripture for specific guidance regarding a matter.
- Potential workers who are talented and gifted to play certain roles in church aren’t dedicated enough to volunteer to do them. What this does is leave vacancies open that need to be filled if the church work is going to keep rolling.
- Workers who aren’t necessarily talented or gifted to play those roles get plugged into the vacancies simply because they are willing to fill them. While these peoples’ willingness to do something for the Lord is certainly commendable, let’s not pretend that church work functions at a high level when workers attempt to do jobs they aren’t equipped to do well.
- Church work is different than work that gets done in a place of employment in that you can’t just demote people (without repercussion) for inefficiency. If you demote someone, not only will that hurt that person’s feelings, it will also anger the friends the person has in the church. In other words, if you think there won’t be fallout you’d better think again.
- Even workers who have the talent, gifting, and dedication to play the roles they are playing don’t always seek God’s will regarding every decision in those roles. The funny thing about the talented, gifted person is that he or she is the one most likely to think, “I can handle this on my own. I know what’s best in this situation.”
So, in light of all these problems (and others that I didn’t even name) should we just give up on church altogether? No, that’s not what Jesus would have us do. In Matthew 16:18, He calls the church “My church.” In Ephesians 1:25, the church is referred to as “His body.” And in Ephesians 5:25 we read that He loved the church enough to give Himself for her. All of these verses show us that Jesus is very much in favor of the church, and, yes, that includes each local version of it that meets every Sunday.
One saying says, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.” Another saying says, “We could have a great church if it wasn’t for all these people.” Both sayings have a nugget of truth in them, and both help explain why church work doesn’t always get done efficiently or proficiently. Still, though, church marches on and will continue to do so until Jesus ends the church age by way of the Rapture. Therefore, it is up to each Christian to play the role that he or she is gifted to play in church and to make sure that God is there whenever and wherever we have church.