It’s become a bit of a common occurrence.
I’m sitting across the table from someone who is interested in becoming a church member. Over a cup of strong black coffee (because I’m a man), we discuss the Gospel, what church membership means and why biblical church accountability is important.
At the end of our time together, I always ask the question, “How can you help the church and how can the church help you?”
Inevitably, the reply comes, “I just want to serve.”
Granted, the reply has a variety of manifestations, but they basically boil down to the same idea. People want to be used for the health and wellbeing of the church and are eager to offer their services.
This is great, and I love this about prospective church members.
However, I know they are likely thinking about service in relation to nursery rotation, teaching Junior High boys, greeting or simply giving of their time and resources – basically something with a sign-up sheet.
These are noble acts of service, and the church (yes yours) needs people to help in these areas.
But as I slowly see them start to wince anticipating I’m going to bring up the vacancy with the Junior High boys (or give a lecture on tithing), I always say the same thing.
Even before the nursery rotation or coffee-bar station, your church needs you to serve in three ways:
1. Make your home a center of discipleship.
Discipleship doesn’t begin at the church doors (though it should certainly take place there). Biblical discipleship begins in the home. Whether or not you have a family at home, no matter what ages your kids are or if it’s just you in the home, this might look different for you than for others. But the idea is the same. Make your home a holy place. Make it a place that honors God where the Bible is read, God is worshiped and family relationships are biblical. Be hospitable. Invite people over and invest spiritually in them. Share the Gospel with your neighbors.
Don’t have anything in your home you wouldn’t want others in your church family to have in their home. God has gifted you with a home – whatever it may be. Creatively use it, first and foremost, as a place for making disciples of Jesus.
2. Be present for the church.
Yes, attend worship services and other church body activities. But being present for the church isn’t just about taking up a seat.
Ask yourself how your church life would look different if you considered your presence with the church to be for the sake of others rather than simply for yourself? Would you arrive at the same time you do now? Would you sit or park in the same place you do now? Would you talk to anyone other than the people you regularly talk with now? Would you act differently in the community and behind closed doors throughout the week?
Being present for the church can be different than being present with the church. Use your time before, after and during worship gatherings to meet new people; encourage and pray with others; sing the truths of the Gospel so the faint heart next to you might be encouraged; and generally look for a need in the body you have been equipped to meet. Let your church attendance be for the sake of the church, not the church’s activities be just for the sake of you.
3) Pray for and with the church
This one is simple, but often goes overlooked. Your church needs prayer. Your pastors need prayer. Other churches in your community need prayer. We live in a world where the church is becoming increasingly isolated from the culture as the truth of the Gospel is seen as even more of an offense.
People in your church may lose jobs, relationships or even worse for the sake of the Gospel. When you get together with people from your church – even over dinner on Tuesday at Chili’s – consider praying for your church and pastors before you eat. Spiritual battles need spiritual weapons and prayer is a weapon vital to protecting the church and its spiritual health.
As you can see, these acts of service on behalf of the church have little to do with titles. You won’t get an award for 20 years of faithful service each week in reading the Bible at home with your family. No one may ever see you pray for the church. Your prayer with another church member on Sunday morning may take place in a corner chair and not on a platform.
But when we focus on our time outside of the few hours on Sunday morning, we inevitably will strengthen those hours as we meet together. Our churches will be strengthened as our members see service not as a role on Sunday morning, but as a lifestyle lived daily.
Serve your church. Be a disciple and make disciples, whether in the church building on Sunday, the office on Tuesday, or at home on Thursday evening.
This is the foremost way to serve your church.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27).