Bouncing Back From Difficulties: Struggling Alone

This is our fourth installment of our “Bouncing Back” series. We’re talking about how we can be spiritually anchored so that we may weather any storm. We won’t break – we can bounce back. We’ve talked about refusing to see obstacles as unbeatable. We’ve talked about rejecting hopelessness and holding on to hope. Last time we discussed embracing change instead of fearing it. Today we talk about bouncing back through our deep relationships.

People who have strong connections are more resistant to stress. The more real friendships you develop, the more resilient you’re going to be because you have a strong support network to fall back on.

Surround yourself by people who make you feel good and further your development. Poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island”. People who know more about the issue than I do say that the more we isolate ourselves, the more we increase our stress and frustration.  Al Gore said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech,

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

were-here-to-pump-you-upAnother quirky element of being part of community is that other people can also have an impact on our effort levels.  If the person next to you is working hard then it increases your work ethic.

I have seen this in the gym and at Command PT time and again. If you’re paired with someone who puts out minimal effort, your own effort will diminish. If you’re with someone who is PUMPED UP and giving maximum effort, your own efforts will improve!

Why be part of a deep and authentic community?

  • We were made to exist in community

Genesis 1 lays the groundwork for it. Every time God creates something, He steps back and says, “It is good.” But out of the ENTIRE created world, there is only ONE thing that is “not good.”

It is not good for man to be alone.

So man goes on a quest to find a perfect partner. None can be found. So God takes matters into his own hands and creates woman, the perfect partner for man, and thus the first community was established. We were built to exist and thrive when we take care of each other in community. Which leads us to the next point —

  • Taking care of others takes care of yourself.

Being of service to others is a powerful way of stoking resilience. Researchers have found that serotonin is used more efficiently by people who engage in acts of kindness. That means the more you do kind things for others, the happier and more resilient you will be. It’s almost like we were created to do good works. If only there were a Bible verse that could back up this theory…

Oh, wait:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)


  • Authentic Community helps us bounce back

Community groups help us as we wrestle with difficulties. AA, NA, Bible Study Groups, take your pick – being plugged into communities gives us resources and support to manage difficult times and not break. The Apostle Paul talks about this kind of thing in his letter to the Romans:

Romans 15:1-3 ~ We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

And, in the end, this is about what real family looks like. It’s not about shared blood – it’s about choosing to be an intentional part of a community of like-minded people. People who spur us on. People who won’t let us quit. People we impact and who impact us. People who keep us from breaking.

This is family.


I won’t quit. I have impact. Pain isn’t permanent. I will not break.

Christian Community: It Ain’t Suposed to Be Shallow.

We live in an increasingly fragmented and shallow society. I believe people are really desiring a new way of life that is more connected with others.

universe-1044107_1920Genesis has a vivid picture of God creating. There is great chaos in the Cosmos as God is creating merely from the power of His words. Matter is neither created or destroyed, is simply changes form. God is the only one who creates something out of nothing. And every time he creates something, He steps back and says, “It is good.”

Everything is good – except for one thing in all of creation that is not good.

Genesis 2:18 tells us that it is NOT good for man to be alone.

God has given humanity all of this incredible stuff in creation, but the one thing that cannot be fulfilled by the created world is human companionship. God designed us to thrive in community. God establishes the very first human community – the family – so that we can survive.

Science shows that our health improves when we are actively plugged in to community life. Sure, there are other variables at play, but all things being equal, the person who is connected in community lives a longer and happier life. But this requires we are intentional about building that community. It means doing more than merely filling a pew with the same person week after week.

It is not enough simply to show up and think that we are building a community. Community is not built here in the service. Community is built on the outside so that we come together AS a community and worship God together. Let’s look at 3 elements of building community:

1. We must connect with Jesus.

There’s a great story about Jesus’s ministry when he encounters a small guy named Zacchaeus.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

As a tax collector, Zacchaeus would have been a pariah in the Jewish community. Not only did he extort people, but he represented the Roman occupying state. He was an enemy of God’s people, a traitor to Yahweh. Yet Jesus intentionally goes to this outsider, this incredibly flawed individual, and invited him in to community!

2. Authentic community begins when we realize that we are imperfect people invited into community with a perfect Jesus Christ.

In our imperfection we’re still invited to come an sit beside Jesus. Can you imagine that? God doesn’t require us to be perfect BEFORE we’re invited in. If we had to be perfect first we’d NEVER receive an invitation. But he loves us and invites us to be part of his community in spite of our flaws and failures.

Paul writes in Romans 5:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You didn’t have to be good enough for Jesus to take your place on the cross. You never could have made it. And authentic community begins when we realize that I am flawed yet still invited to be part of God’s community.

kitten-1154693_1920Radio personality Paul Harvey once said: “We’ve strayed from being fishers of men, to being keepers of the aquarium.” Some people act as though the church is supposed to be an aquarium. It’s pretty. You clean it. You watch the pretty fish swim around. It’s perfect, down to the exact pH balance and the diver with the bubbles coming out of his helmet.

People want the church to be perfect and serene. But if you read the Bible the way I do, the church isn’t meant to be an aquarium – it’s a hospital – where broken and wounded people come to find healing. As God works on our lives he cleans us up, sure, but we’re never supposed to forget that our authentic community begins with a recognition that we’re all wounded in need of a hospital.

You don’t have to be perfect – you’re invited as you are.

3. Authentic community continues as we grow and connect with each other

Acts 2 describes the intentionality early Christians had in building community:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Community doesn’t happen by accident. Community is built as we live life together, as we experience the ups and downs and the joys and the pains together. We don’t want to be a church of strangers simply getting together to do our spiritual thang and then disappear to our individual lives. Showing up once a week will not build community or establish relationships. Authentic community happens before and after church, through the week, after duty hours.

Think about group dynamics and cliques. People often get frustrated about an inability to break into new groups because of cliques within an organization. This is true in the church but it’s also true in the workplace and in neighborhoods. It’s not that cliques are necessarily bad or evil. Cliques develop because people form bonds with others outside of the large group environment. The clique is a fundamental element of community. People bond on the outside and bring those bonds into the larger group. You can’t say, “I’m going to show up at church once a week and then try to insert myself into a clique that meets together 3 times a week.”

What?!? While we want to be open and welcoming to all, we do need to recognize that there are in-group and out-group dynamics at play that allow us to build relationships with others, and building relationships is always a good thing. Just make sure that your relationships don’t cause you to mistreat or alienate others and you’re good to go.

The original Christians met together daily. They ate, they hung out, they celebrated. Their worship services weren’t about strangers getting together – they were about the extended family coming together to worship Jesus. Our social group ruts tend to be the people we can regular contact with on a daily or weekly basis. Connecting with God’s community means being intentional to develop those relationships and bonds.

Connect with Jesus. Recognize we’re all imperfect but called together to be part of the community of faith. Be intentional in developing the connection with others. It’s about deep relationships and forgetting the shallowness that comes with a lot of our modern culture.

You’re welcome in.


A Biblical Response in the Wake of the Oregon Shooting

I was asked to write a response to the mass shooting that recently took place in Oregon.

I intentionally delayed writing this time because I didn’t want to fire off a quick response without having time to digest the situation. Goodness knows enough bloggers and media outlets do that – I don’t need to lend my voice to the fray.

The problem as I see it is that many of the “Christian commentators” are looking at the peripheral issues rather than looking at the heart of the matter. Some of these peripherals include discussions about gun control and homicide statistics in the United States as compared to other Western nations.

One of my favorite jokes has always been, “Gun control is a steady hand.” gun-control-finger-discipline-tshirt-light-zoom

But these issues, while they might be important to some, are not the real issue. As I see it, there are two primary issues from a biblical standpoint:

  1. How do we wrap our minds around the atrocious evil carried out by this person?
  2. How do we appropriately respond as Christians?

The issue of evil and suffering in the world has been covered by people who have much more brain power than I do. I’m not going to attempt to re-argue points others have made. In a nutshell, what we’re talking about is theodicy – talking about God’s goodness in light of the evil and suffering that exists in the world.

And the world IS an evil place filled with vile people. From the dawn of time, humans have done horrible things to each other. You can’t even blame it all on religion, as some are quick to do. Even non-religious people are capable of despicable evil. The problem is the heart of humanity. No gun control in the world, no amount of intensive background checking, no “gun-free” signs can change the heart of a person. Arguing about gun-control doesn’t address the sin issue within us. Those who are committed to doing evil to others will find a way to do it.

Christians waste our time when we jump into the argument about gun control AS A RESPONSE TO TRAGEDY. This leads us to the second issue: how then DO we respond?

We cry, mourn, then shut up.

Job’s friends are a great example. After Job has lost everything and is even told by his wife that it’s time to curse God and die, Job’s friends visit.

Now when three of Job’s friends heard of all the misfortune that had come upon him, they set out each one from his own place: Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuh, and Zophar from Naamath. They met and journeyed together to give him sympathy and comfort. But when, at a distance, they lifted up their eyes and did not recognize him, they began to weep aloud; they tore their cloaks and threw dust into the air over their heads. Then they sat down upon the ground with him seven days and seven nights, but none of them spoke a word to him; for they saw how great was his suffering. (Job 2:11-13)

When we see people in time of distress we love to surround them with a bunch of words. How ridiculous. As if any words or any legislation could fix the brokenness we feel when we go through tragedy.

So just shut up. There is a time and a place for conversations about gun control, about how we legislate and enforce legislation. In the wake of tragedy is not the place. Let us rather come alongside those who suffer and mourn with them. Cry with them. Sit in silence with them.

Just shut up.

Dear Pastor, Why Do You Hate Church?!

angry man

Actually, I don’t.

In fact, I love the church. But ever since I started out on a new ministry idea I’ve been asked that question by other Christians.

This new ministry idea? It’s a digital ministry. The concept is fairly simple: provide a church community to people who are not able or are not willing to step into a traditional church building. Feel free to check out the description and vision.

But some people are uncomfortable with the idea.

Some have asked: How do you respond to the Bible’s exhortation to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25)?

But the Bible doesn’t say what that meeting has to look like. The early church ever had any inkling that people would be connecting and meeting globally thanks to technology. Businesses do it. Friends and family do it. Now it’s time for the church to do it.

We have the ability to connect with people like never before.

Some have asked: How can you be a real church without giving the sacraments of baptism and communion?

Put simply, it doesn’t take a church building to do baptisms and communion. I was baptized in a hot tub at a church member’s home. And if we take the Bible seriously when it calls us a kingdom of priests, then we understand that it doesn’t take ordained clergy to administer baptism and communion. It’s something all Christians can participate in WHEREVER they are.

Additionally, we need to be honest about baptism and communion not being a prerequisite for entrance to heaven.


Simmer down, now! Think about the crucifixion story. The thief beside Jesus asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus answered:

“I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

No baptism. No communion. Just a promise of eternity in the presence of God because of his faith.

At The Church Plant our desire is to bring the message of Jesus to all of the God-friendly but un-churched people online.

Recent stats say that 80% of un-churched people would consider going to church if invited by a friend. Unfortunately, only 2% of Christians EVER invite someone to church. We’re missing a HUGE opportunity to reach people who are open to the idea of God.

So here I am. It’s new. It’s a little terrifying. I’m not sure how God is going to use this ministry or where it will go. It’s kind of a work in progress. 🙂

But I’ll follow the path God has laid out, and we’d love for you to walk with us.

You know people who have been burned by a church and never want to return. You know people who are open to the idea of God but don’t want to step foot in church. You know people who are house-bound and CAN’T make it to a church.

Tell them about The Church Plant – there’s a community waiting to welcome them and share the love of Jesus in a digital way.

I Won’t Do That – That’s the Pastor’s Job


The other day I noticed some folks I know playing a game they called Pastor’s Job. In a nutshell, they were coming up with things people expect of the pastor that they themselves wouldn’t do.

While these people were trying to be funny and witty, there is truth in what they were saying. Many times we seem to place the major responsibility of ministry on the pastor. The truth is that we’re all called to be ministers. Peter writes:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

We have a calling to be a part of the priesthood of believers, that we may proclaim the praises of God!

While the pastor may be the lead shepherd of a local church, each and every member has a part to play in ministry.

Sometimes we stop and say, “Well…I can’t do anything.” You’d be surprised. It takes a lot for ministry to function. There is always something for you to do. And if you have a gift, a talent, or a calling that is not yet part of your church’s ministry, maybe God is telling you that it’s time to start one. Yes, you!

There should be no benchwarmers in the Church. We are all called to play a part.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12)

Time to get in the game!

And You Thought Your Family Was Bad…


No matter how bad your family is it could always be worse.


I mean, how many of us have had to deal with Dad chopping off our hands with an ancient-yet-futuristic weapon?

Luke Loses His Hand

While we may not have had to face something so extreme, we can still admit that relatives can fail us.

Blood may be thicker than water, but what do you do when blood turns on you?

This is what Jesus encountered with his own family. His mother and brothers came to “collect him” – they were shamed by his public behavior – and so they tried to label him as crazy. Just quietly put Jesus away so our family doesn’t have to deal with the embarrassment of having him run around ticking off the religious leaders.

But Jesus rejected them.

Instead, he formed a new family – a spiritual family.

“Who are my mother and my brothers? Those who do the will of God are my mother and my brothers.”

Blood may be thicker than water, but the Spirit of God is thicker than blood. And so Jesus formed a new kinship group. It’s not about our ties through blood. Now it’s about our ties through a common faith in Jesus.

While you don’t hear it too much anymore, Christians once referred to one another and Brother so-and-so or Sister so-and-so. It represented the new kinship group Christians embraced.

We too often forget that we’re part of this family. We still treat each other as “other than.” We gossip about each other and treat each other like strangers, not like family. When we fully embrace Jesus’ radical view of a spiritual family it will change how we treat each other, talk to each other, and talk ABOUT each other.

When we fully embrace Jesus’ radical view of a spiritual family it will play out in how we take care of each other. Dealing with some housing difficulties, a woman in our church was told by two different families, “You and your kids can stay with us until you get something worked out.”

This woman then told me, “That’s more than my own family offered to do.”

I stopped her and said, “No – This IS your family.”

Let’s live like the community Jesus calls us to be – a new kind of family, bonded together with bonds stronger than blood.

I Can’t Come to Church

© Michael Jastremski for

The other day I was involved in a hashtag game with some friends called #ICantComeToChurch.

It was highlighting some of the excuses we have heard (or used) to avoid going to church. Here are just a few of my faves:
– I can’t come to church because of all the hypocrites.
– I can’t come to church because the youth pastor is filling in while the senior pastor is on vacation.
– I can’t come to church because so-and-so always shoots me dirty looks.
– I can’t come to church because last time I skipped no one notices, so now I’m too offended to come back.
– I can’t come to church because __________________________ (insert lame excuse here).

There were a lot more, some were plain silly and fictitious – some real – but it highlights the fact that we’ve all heard (and used) examples of why we can’t be in church.

I’ve frequently heard people argue that you don’t have to be in church to be a Christian- that being in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car. And that’s true. But church isn’t about you and what you get out of it.

In his book, “The Good and Beautiful Community” James Bryan Smith points out that how you feel about church and the feeling you get from church isn’t the point. It’s not about your inspiration, but “rather the ‘transformation of the person within, by, and for the community.”

Being part of the community of faith transforms us. It teaches us. It holds us accountable. It allows us to participate in God’s story, other Christians’ stories, and to share our story with others. When all is said and done, while salvation is by faith in Jesus and not dependent on your church attendance record, we are missing out on the chance to grow and mature into the kind of person we could be if we would participate in the life of God’s Community.

So when Sunday rolls around next week try something different. Don’t look for excuses why you CAN’T go. Look for reasons why you SHOULD go. Engage. Plug in. Start participating in the story. Let others influence you. Influence others.

We all get better because of it.

And together we start to look like the Community God designed us to be.

SOUND OFF! What excuses have you used…er…I mean heard others use to get out of church?

Are You Slowed Down by Losers?

Image courtesy of mapichai /
Image courtesy of mapichai /

The year was 1992. The place was Barcelona, Spain. You see, it was the Summer Olympics. The U.S. Track & Field coaches put together a real doozy of a team. Guys like Michael Johnson and Quincy Watts, fast as blazes, joined the team. These were some of the fastest individuals in the world. Do you know what happens when you take the fastest individuals in the world and put them on the same relay-race team? Lightening. Watch this.

Four men running with the same purpose – to cross that line before anyone else while still holding the baton, running faster than 20 miles per hour! But if you take any one of them out of the race and the team is no good. You need someone to pass the baton and you need someone to receive the baton. Only then can the team move towards to goal – winning the race.

There was a spiritual man a long time ago who needed to learn this lesson. His name was Elijah. Elijah loved God and always stood up for God, even when most of the people around him seemed to be going a different direction. It’s hard to go against the crowd. Our human nature tends to conform to the world around us. That is one reason it is so important to surround ourselves with good people that will build us up. Good people tend to make us better. Bad people tend to drag us down. But Elijah stood up for God even when others turned against him. But the opposition got so bad at one point that Elijah had to high-tail it out of there – he literally ran for his life and holes up in a cave.

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Like Elijah, sometimes we feel like we’re running alone. Can’t you just hear Elijah? “God, this is supposed to be a relay and there are supposed to be other runners with me! I’m the only one left. How am I supposed to run alone? I can run fast for a little bit, but then I get tired and will collapse!” Do you ever feel like you’re running the race alone? That feeling hits us in every area of life. As parents sometimes we feel that way. You’re tired and just cannot run another step. In our jobs sometimes we feel that way. “Why am I the only one pulling my weight around here? There should be other employees to help out!”

In our ministries at church sometimes we feel that way. “God, I’m here to serve you but nobody will do it with me – I’m burned out and fed up!” Has this ever been you? I’ve been there. We feel like we’re running the race alone, and everyone knows that you can’t win a relay race with only one runner. But then God answers.

“There are others who will run with you!”

In fact, God says, “Not only are you NOT alone, there are 7,000 more God-fearing people who are on your side!”

How cool is that?!?

In our human weakness we like to hold on to that suffering servant role. “It’s just me, only me. I’m the only one!” And here comes God who gives us a gentle nudge and says, “Hey, you’re not as alone as you think you are.” God will always have people on His side. Though it may be hard to recognize at times, we never truly run alone. God has people who are ready, willing, and able to run with you.

We need to find people who are willing to help us, people who have already been running the race and are willing to pass the baton to us. This means finding mentors, teachers, and others who can help us on our journey. Proverbs 12:15 tells us:

“A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.”

We become wiser and better prepared if we surround ourselves with people who have run the race and can give us good, godly input. Just the other day I ran an idea by someone and said, “I was thinking about this, what do you think?” And he said, “Well, I tried that once and this was the result and what I discovered.” It altered how I thought about things, and I was glad I took the time to hear him out.

Have you been intentional about putting good people in place who can speak into your life? Not just anyone, mind you. Sometimes people ask advice and counsel from the WRONG people. Ladies, why do you seek relationship advice from your girlfriend when she doesn’t know how to have a healthy relationship with a man?

“Girl, this is what you should tell that man…”

“Really? Did it work for you?” Make sure that your counselors are not telling you simply what you want to hear. Good people build us up. Bad people drag us down. Surround yourself with good people who can pour into you.

Have you set up people in your life that can mentor you, train you, and pass the baton to you? No matter what our age we always need good counsel. It is time to drop the bad counsel and the people that drag you down. It is time to surround yourself with people who will build you up and speak God’s truth to you

Do Gooders Rock

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Every once in a while someone does something so extraordinary that it shocks our senses and reminds of what humanity is supposed to look like. Today I read just such a story.

A man was in a restaurant when he overheard someone nearby receive a terrible phone call that shook her up. The man wrote a note to his server:

Do me a favor and bring me their check, too. Someone just got diagnosed. Don’t tell them


What an example of a caring heart for others. The Apostle Paul once wrote:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10)

Too often we get so caught up in our own needs and wants that we completely neglect those around us. If we stop and think for a minute we might recognize that God’s grace is active all around us and that, no matter what we’re going through, God is present and is blessing us. Someone always has it worse than we do.

So keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. Keep your heart open. How might you seize the opportunity to good towards others today? Tomorrow? Every day?

Related Posts:
You Are Not an Island: Created for Community
Robin Hood Lives: Taking Care of Others
Are You Making a Difference?

Glamorous Body Parts

Image courtesy of stockimages at
Image courtesy of stockimages at

Some parts of the body are just more glamorous than others. There’s no way around it. The muscular parts or the sexual parts get a lot of attention and make us look twice, but who looks twice at an elbow or a big toe?

When it comes to our experience in Christianity the Apostle Paul compares our belonging to being part of a body. And, just like the human body, there are certain roles within an organization that get a lot of attention and the spotlight. Other roles are more like the elbow or the big toe – not a lot of glamorous attention given to them.

Sometimes not being the spotlight person causes us to sit back and do nothing. “I’m not the pastor, I just attend.” “I’m not a Children’s Church leader, I just show up for the donuts and coffee and to get my spiritual fix for the week.”

But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

You see – in the Church there are no bench warmers. Everyone is supposed to step up and play an active role in the ministry. It doesn’t matter if you’re the bicep who does the heavy lifting and looks great when flexed. You have your own role to play. Paul puts it this way:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-21)

There it is. Everyone has a role to play – you don’t get out of serving just because you’re not such-and-such like you-know-who. It doesn’t matter what others can do. God calls us to use our gifts to serve.

In practice it comes down to the local church being made up of DOZENS of ministers, not just the pastor. God has called ALL Christians to do ministry. Many churches have taken an unbiblical perspective that the pastor is the one who should do the ministry of the church. The fact is, if people are expecting pastors to do the entire ministry of the church then the pastor will burn out and the people in the church will never live up to the gifts and callings that God has given them.

As a pastor it is my desire to help people discover how they can use the gifts that God has given them in order to be ministers. My church is launching a pastoral care & visitation ministry in the next few weeks. We’re training church members how to do visitation and provide pastoral care to others in the church. That’s AWESOME! That’s people stepping up to do ministry, to BE ministers.

Pastor Leroy Howe says it like this:

“We must stop using the word pastoral to refer only to the work of a congregation’s leader. Instead we must use it to refer to a particular kind of caring relationship and attitude, one that all Christians are called to cultivate toward others, with shepherding as its central image.”

So get off the sidelines and get into the game! What gifts has God given you? How can you serve Him and minister to others? There is an important place for you in the Kingdom of God that is not being filled as long as you’re warming the bench. Every part of the body needs to be functioning if we’re to have a fully healthy body.

How can you step up and minister to others for God’s sake?


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