Is This Your Church?
First of all, Happy New Year to you and your family! Prayers that God will bless you immensely during the 2024 year.
I wanted to start off the New Year with something I hope you will be challenged by and maybe will share with other church leaders and church folks you may know.
Jesus said he came not to be served but to serve, and told his disciples, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). Jesus told us and showed us time and time again while He was on this earth that serving others is a key action in following Christ. He put a premium on serving others. Despite Jesus’ admonition, many Protestant churchgoers find it difficult to serve others.
And your first thought is, “Not me. Not my church. We do a really good job at this.” And maybe you do, and maybe your church does, but the vast majority of churches and church goers today really struggle with compassion ministry (serving others).
“Many churchgoers profess faith in Jesus Christ but are not putting that faith into action,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Jesus set an example for his followers through both the beliefs he taught and the way he served others.” We, as Christians, are called to love God and to love others. Love is a verb that manifests itself in everyday, practical deeds of service. That means our call to love God and others is a call to serve.
Now, many churches have head knowledge of that, give lip service to this creed, and may even think they do a great job at compassion ministry, but the truth is… most don’t.
Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? We talk about this concept in our Operation Inasmuch Trainings with churches. This principle states that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Is that your church? Really… IS THAT YOUR CHURCH? Actually, we hear more often that it is closer to 10%/90%.
I have never encountered an active church that did not do some sort of ministry in the community. Most churches are doing something. But the deeper questions have to be asked. How many of your congregation are engaged in serving? And I’m not really talking about serving in the church. Most church leaders will tell you that getting enough people to serve IN the church is already like pulling teeth. I’m talking about serving outside of the church walls, out in the local community where the lost and broken people are.
This past Sunday, my pastor read a little parable out of a college textbook of his that went something like this:
Now, it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week and month after month and year after year, those who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year, they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually, they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. They built large, beautiful buildings called Fishing Headquarters. Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Their plea was that everyone should be a fisherman, and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however. They didn’t fish.
Is this your church? The above excerpt was definitely talking about evangelism and sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, but it relates so much to this concept of serving others as well. I feel strongly that serving others is a fantastic way to begin to share your faith. Many times, when we serve others, it is the most natural way to begin to have conversations about Jesus. Serving is evangelism.
So, have I just described your church in some way above? Maybe something in there struck a chord with you as a lay leader in your church or as a church leader. You know, your church already has some people involved in compassion ministry. I’m sure of it. Maybe it’s:
- Women preparing food and taking it to people with some sort of need.
- Men doing carpentry.
- Backpacks for children in the fall.
- Food giveaways.
All these are good, but they tend to be fragmented and segregated. Therefore, they really do not have the impact that can bring about a transformation in the church.
What if all these ministries happened on ONE day? And what if a lot of other service opportunities were added to that day? What if the church led out in helping people get connected to serving others instead of just simply asking people to serve?
That is what Operation Inasmuch is all about. We want to invigorate the church – God’s people – to live out the gospel through daily acts of compassion by loving the unloved, serving the unserved, and reaching out to the unchurched. You cannot do that by sitting in the pews and only a small percentage of your church actively engaged in compassion ministry.
If you follow the Inasmuch model, we can almost guarantee that you will see about half of the 80 percenters get involved in addition to the 20 percenters who do everything in the church, making 60 % of your regular Sunday attendance involved in an Inasmuch Day. We’ve even seen up to 125% of the congregation involved!!! With this sort of involvement, you’ll see a movement of compassion begin in your church!
So, stop for a minute and do some self-analysis. If you are a church leader, think about your church. Maybe 2024 can be the year that leads you or your church toward spiritual fervor in serving. It’s a time for the broken and the needy in our world to see the Church in a new way. A time for the Church to serve the unserved, love the unloved, and reach out to the unchurched in ways they have never done before. We are the Church, YOU and ME, and we have a chance to step up and tell people that Jesus loves them by showing them that we love them. What an opportunity that we have been given… to serve with fervor!
Operation Inasmuch would love to help your church grow the number of people who are serving, the number of people who your church serves, and the number of people who give their lives away to Jesus. We want to help your church recharge and feel refreshed. We want to encourage you and pray for you. We want to excite you and invigorate you. We want to challenge you and walk with you as we all join in this mission of compassion. Please let us know how we can do that.