What would you consider are the nuts and bolts of a local Christian assembly? I think the correct answer gets mixed up in the wash of the traditional American church. For years, local churches expected all ministry to flow through the Pastor, with financial support and occasional volunteers coming from the membership. The Pastor will marry, bury, preach, teach, and handle the day to day operations of their church, much like a small business owner handles his business affairs.
However, this makes it difficult to fulfill Matthew 28:19. We are called to go into the world and make disciples of all men. To do this, the Church should look more like a well-run multi-company conglomerate with several ministries relying on spiritual giftings and the calling God has on each member. Senior Pastors like John Piper and Chris Hodges have used this blueprint to grow large, multi-locational, and influential churches which get into the fabric of their local communities.
Their ministries are more than just Sunday service but are energized by committed Christians who seek God for purpose-driven assignments, with the Pastor and staff positioning them for success. This concept more than anything will keep members planted in their local church while allowing the entire congregation to become salt and light.
Matthew 5:13-16 13″You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14″You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Looking at the attributes of salt can give us a great picture of what Jesus meant when he shared these words with His disciples. In His time on earth, salt was an important mineral for everyday life. It was crucial for food preparation and preservation. But for it to be effective, it must be applied to what it will affect.
Salt in a shaker will not season anything. We must place it directly on the food for it to have its effect. This application is how a church should minister. Where members, established and new, young and old are encouraged to serve the community and make a difference. It would be impossible for the church to operate at maximum efficiency if the Pastor (or Pastors) are expected to do everything regarding ministry. When everyone in the church engages, transformation happens in the church and in its community.
Too often churches focus only on bible studies and sermons which remain exclusive to the membership. Oh yes, we have the occasional guest, but we spend more time memorizing scripture and less time applying them. We end up shining our light in each other’s face and blinding ourselves into thinking this is true Christian living.
“Shining our light before others,” is getting beyond our four walls and expressing what we learn to those who live in the dark; which brings us to low hanging fruit.
The Path of Least Resistance
As a former salesman, I understand the principle of the path of least resistance. The easiest deal to close is to the customer who desperately needs the product you sell. A smart salesperson will focus their attention on potential customers who need their product. It’s not wise for a seller of home improvements to target owners of homes which are brand new. No, they focus on neighborhoods which have been around awhile with houses needing the repairs they have to offer.
I have seen too many churches more concerned with theology than winning souls. They argue about baptisms, religious sabbaths, and who’s saved and who’s not. They are trying to sell their brand of religion to someone who is quite comfortable with their own.
The low hanging fruit for Christians does not care about theology, baptisms, or how to get saved. They are looking for something better than what they have. They are looking for something which can change their lives and make it better. They are looking for Jesus Christ whether they know it or not!
It may be the reason Jesus told us to focus our attention on the disenfranchised. The poor, the widows and the orphans. When we help these people, it shows others that we are willing to help them as well. In a recent conversation I had with a Pastor who has led his church in caring for foster-care families, he said the effect on his kids’ ministry was tremendous. They have nearly tripled in two years. The reason? New members tell him, “if you care for these kids, I know you will care for mine.”
Ask any Senior Pastor, and they will tell you when the children’s ministry grows, the whole church is growing. The path to least resistance in growing a children’s ministry is focusing our attention on children who desperately need Jesus, then helping them all.