We had dinner with friends last night and the conversation turned to their concern for the church. The wife stated, "It seems that churches today are either personality cults or else run by boards of deacons or elders that would evict the Holy Spirit if He showed up!" She further expressed her concern that if everyone just starts their own ministry or work that the church will be weakened and accountability and fellowship thwarted. She then asked my opinion.
Most people just can't imagine the Church being a place without some kind of control. But I see a Church that is vibrant, where each person is fulfilling his or her purpose. That requires servant leaders who help people find what it is they are supposed to do -- missions, ministry, business, eduction, medicine. Then these same leaders must then be involved to equip these same people for release and success. No matter how big or unwieldy this may seem to be, the Holy Spirit can handle it. Each person must pursue their own accountability according to the sphere where they fulfill their purpose and that is where they will receive their primary means of fellowship.
I think that most people expect too much of their church and its leaders, but I acknowledge that usually church leaders are not equipped to oversee a broad spectrum of ministry outlets from their own house. That is why the message of purpose is so critical. Purpose gives each person orders from "headquarters" and then everyone has their marching orders--the person to fulfill their purpose and the church leaders to equip each person for their work of service.
But this requires a whole new attitude in church leaders and members alike. No longer can anyone look for the church to assign them their purpose; they must find it for themselves. And no longer can the church offer only a few expressions of purposeful activity -- nursery, choir and ushering -- but must allow the church's agenda to be set, to some extent, by the purpose assigned to each member. For instance, if I am a pastor and someone in my church has a purpose for missions, then I MUST adapt my own activities and emphasis to see this person prepared and released for missions. That is true servant leadership and that will revolutionize the church so that my friends, and many others like them, will see the church as a giving and not a taking agency.
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