by Bill Denton
"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work." (2 Chron 15:7)
"Just remember: Every baseball team could use a man who plays every position perfectly, never strikes out and never makes an error. The trouble is, there's no way to make him lay down his hot dog and come down out of the stands." -James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited
Evidently, church is a lot like baseball. It would be great if we had some people who could play every position perfectly: preach like the prophets, sing like angels, teach like Jesus, and who could speak words that gave strength to the weak, comfort to the hurting, encouragement to the disheartened, and faith to the doubting. Trouble is, there's no way to get them to lay down their hot dog and come out of pews!
I've known lots of people who could critique Sunday's sermon over the dinner table, but who never once stood in front of people and proclaimed Jesus. I've known people who criticized Bible class teachers, but who would never take on the job. Doubtlessly, there are far more people who know how churches ought to operate than who help get things done. I've even known of people complaining about the selection of food at the latest "pot-luck" or "basket dinner," but who wouldn't bring anything to put on the table.
I've got a surprise for you. The church is only what it's members are. You can't advertise your church into a new reality. You can advertise, but it won't change what you really are. What you really are is more like your actions and less like your words (unless of course, your actions and words are the same).
Everyone wants a great church, but too often, they want someone else to build it for them. I like the example of Miss Maudie Russell. Maudie was 91 years old when the church where I was preaching at the time decided to begin a ministry for singles. The kickoff meeting for this new group was to be a spaghetti supper on Friday night. On Thursday, Maudie called me at my office to make sure of the time for the supper. A bit concerned that she didn't understand what the singles ministry was all about, I gently tried to find out why she was asking. "Well, it's supposed to be a ministry for singles, right?" she asked. "Yes, it is." I replied. "Well then, I'm single, so I figure I better show up!" And you know what? She helped get that ministry going.
You want a great church? Good. Stop critiquing and criticizing everyone else and pay attention to your own contribution. Put down your hot dog, come out of the pew, and help us build it.
Article ©2000, Bill Denton. Copyright © 1996-2001, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759. May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
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