Summary: God calls you to partner with him in a mission that is bigger than you are (Principle 3 from Made to Count).
Theme: God calls you to partner with him in a mission that is bigger than you are (Principle 3 from Made to Count).
Introduction: Recent polls show a dramatic increase in “church hoppers” – those who flit from one church to the next like a water bug, never fully landing and immersing themselves into a local body of believers. Something is never quite right. The pastor preaches too long, the members are not very friendly, the music is not “my style.” There’s got to be another church that will better meet my needs. And so the water bug goes, from one church to the next, landing for a flicker here, a moment there, constantly in search of the perfect fit and missing a vital part of their calling. They need to understand an important truth about the church. The church does not exist to serve them. That mindset – consumer Christianity or “McChurch” as some call it – is simply not scriptural. We exist to build Christ’s kingdom by building Christ’s church. The church does not exist to build our ego, our business, or even our circle of friends.
Drop in on a typical conversation at a restaurant where church members are eating after a service. You will probably hear something like:
“How’d you like the service today?”
“Not bad. I loved the music, but Pastor Goforth’s got to get some new stuff.”
“Yeah, I mean, how many times is he going to tell that story about the port-a-john cleaner, anyway?”
It’s almost as if you had just dropped in on a few students discussing a movie they’d just seen.
“Did you like it?”
“Not bad. The acting was pretty good, but the story line was like so predictable.”
“Yeah. And I’m getting so tired of those Matrix-style special effects. I mean…hello! You think we haven’t seen that before?”
The church as theater – is that really what God intended? Maybe. But not the way we think of theater today. And certainly not with the role confusion that exists among some church members. Theater, of course, began in earnest with the Greeks. They popularized the idea of theater, drawing huge audiences and turning their plays into poignant commentaries on life. Classic Greek theater revolved around three different components. The prompters played a critical role in these live performances. They stayed down in front of the actors in an area that would later become the orchestra pit, coaching and directing the actors throughout the play. The actors, of course, developed the drama on the stage all for the benefit and pleasure of the attending audience, hoping that the audience would leave pleased with the performance.
For many in today’s church, those roles translate neatly in to the way they view worship:
· The actors are the pastors, choir, and praise team – those on stage.
· The prompter would, of course, be God Himself, orchestrating the leaders as the worship unfolds.
· The audience would be the congregation, watching and waiting to be blessed.
Scripture teaches differently. We are told that whatever we do, we are to do it with all our hearts, as for the Lord, and not for men. Certainly, this includes worship and every other activity we do associated with church. God, and only God, is the audience.
The members are the actors, with the pastor and other leaders serving as prompters. After all, the job of the leaders is not to perform, but to equip the members for the work of ministry. So Scripture would have us structure this analogy quite differently:
· The actors are the church members, each one a minister.
· The prompters are the pastors and other leaders.
· The audience is God alone.
This scriptural blueprint takes the members out of the role of critic and puts them into the role of participant. Worship is no longer viewed as a performance we judge but as an act we perform. Our question at the end of a church service should not be whether we thought the service was “good,” but whether we thought that God was well pleased. (Bob Reccord and Randy Singer, Made to Count, p. 91-93)
We take responsibility for the church, our church, with all its faults and blemishes. And we realize that the church will never be perfect, but it is still Christ’s bride.
But worship is not just about sitting in church on Sunday in corporate worship – it is about our lives being an act of worship every single day wherever God has placed us. That is the context of Romans 12:1-2 when it declares that daily offering our lives as a “living sacrifice” is one of the highest acts of spiritual worship we can do. And that means right where we are wherever we live out our life in partnership with God. What living out a partnership with God to accomplish a mission bigger than we are looks like…