Sunday, July 22, 2018
In our culture, when you walk into a building with a stage and rows of seats, you expect a show. You need not interact with anyone. You simply pay your money, enjoy the entertainment (or not), and carry on with your life. No further commitment is required.
Most churches meet in buildings with a stage and rows of seats. So, perhaps we should not be surprised that we are all tempted to treat the gathering of the church like a show. Pastors and worship leaders are the entertainers, and everyone else is a spectator. But this inclination undermines Christ’s plan for his followers.
The gathering of a local church is not a show or a religious ceremony. It’s a family meeting. Yes, Scripture is to be read and taught (1 Tim 4:13), and songs are to be sung (Eph 5:19). But everyone is called to participate in encouraging one another (Heb 10:24-25). We should relate to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ (Lu 8:19-21; 1 Tim 5:1-2).
Just like any family event, various tasks need to be accomplished when the church gathers. If everyone shares the responsibility, the burden is light. But this does not happen when we slip back into that entertainment mindset. As the saying goes, twenty percent of the people end up doing eighty percent of the work.
This imbalance creates some unhealthy dynamics in church families. Leaders are tempted to use guilt to coerce people into serving. Once someone is placed on the schedule, they are expected to stay on indefinitely. Since they do not feel the freedom to take a break, their involvement can begin to seem burdensome. They may even begin to resent it. The entire atmosphere of the church can become negative.
One obvious way to counteract this tendency is to keep church activities simple. Since Calvary East began in 2007, we have resisted the impulse to create multiple weekly meetings for various groups. We focus our time and effort on our Sunday morning worship service and Bible study groups with occasional special events.
Another obvious solution to this imbalance is for more people to serve. But for that to happen, we need to address those unhealthy dynamics. Guilt cannot be used as a motivator. People need to feel the freedom to help out and then take a break.
I would like to try a new approach to getting people involved in serving. Over the next few weeks we will have a sign-up form available for Sunday morning service opportunities. It will be available online and on the back of our Communication Cards that we hand out in every worship service. The sign-up will only apply to September and October. You can select the role you would like to fill and the frequency (weekly, twice a month, once a month, or one time). You can also indicate Sundays when you will not be available. We will then assemble a schedule and distribute it in mid-August.
If you have never served in any capacity here at Calvary East, this sign-up will give you a great opportunity to try out a role without a long-term commitment. If you are feeling burned out in serving, then this approach gives you the opportunity to evaluate and make some changes.
May we learn to serve one another with joy in love!
– Bryan Craddock