I saw an image online that read “Job openings available for Christians: Long hours, poor working conditions, no pay, no earthly retirement, persecution is expected, suffering is long, praise is minimal, Heavenly retirement possible.” While all of that is Biblically accurate, if this was the description of any other job, who would want it? That sounds terrible. Unfortunately, in so many of our rural churches, we have forgotten the joy and benefits that go along with this working for the Lord. Larger churches have the ability to hire people to run their ministries, but even in those cases, the involvement of the laity in the work of the Church truly makes all the difference in the fruitfulness and life of your ministry.
No church has ever remained open and fruitful solely on the efforts of the pastor’s partnership with the Holy Spirit. We are the church together. Take a moment right now to read Romans 12….Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Do you hear these words? Do you hear the urgency and God’s call to you? Offer yourself as a living sacrifice because this is true worship. Sacrifice the desires of your flesh for the will of God in you and through you. That’s what God desires from you more than hymns and words of praise. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Furthermore, if you love Jesus and do His will, you will receive the Holy Spirit. You have been given a gift. Each one of you has a gift and you are to offer that gift to the Church for a purpose. Use your gift for the good of the whole body of believers and the expansion of God’s kingdom.
The Apostle Paul gives several examples of gifts and with each he writes, “If this is your gift then do it.” Notice that he doesn’t say, “Learn more about it and get comfortable using it”, or “Find time to fit it in”. No, Paul commands you to use your gift. Just step out in faith and use your gift. Your gift has come from the Lord. It is the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in you. So do it and let the Holy Spirit handle the outcome and the fruitfulness.
In Mark 4:26-29 Jesus teaches, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Our job as Christians, whether we are laity or clergy, is to scatter the seeds of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is already at work in the hearts of those who will receive those seeds and will remain at work in them to grow those seeds into faith. But we have to be faithful to scatter the seed and tend to the needs of the garden (the people who have received our message). We must each partner with the work of the Holy Spirit and trust that God is at work just as a farmer trusts that the seeds he plants in the ground will come up and produce a harvest.
Your generation may not see the harvest in your community, but we each have to put in the work or there will not be one and your congregation will not carry on beyond your years. Your pastor alone, can not keep your church alive and well. You must each use the gifts you have been given to partner with the work of the Holy Spirit in your mission field.
Now, I realize there are many circumstances which cause us to pause or step out of ministry all together. There are seasons of life that require great attention and energy from us or that limit our abilities and energy to engage in the work of the Body of Christ. Remember that Paul did not quit using his gifts of evangelism and preaching when he was in prison. He shared the Gospel with his fellow inmates and even the guards. He continued to write to the churches and leaders he mentored and trained.
Your mission field may change, your ability levels may change, your gifts may even change, but your call does not and nor does it end. Each and every true believer is called to go and make disciples. Use your gifts to proclaim the Gospel, heal the sick, set the captive free, and cast out demons. That might look different in different seasons of life, but it doesn’t end until we receive our heavenly retirement benefits.
If you would like support in growing the engagement of the laity in your congregation, whether you are clergy or laity yourself, I am here to help! Reach out to me on my contact page and let’s set up a free coaching session to get you started!