Now, in all likelihood, the majority of those that read this article will never be called by God to lead a local body of Christ. But for a short moment, I’d like you to consider that you were called to do just that. Do you think your opinion would change on anything? Do you think your view of members just like yourself would change at all?
How do you view the preaching of God’s Word? (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Is it important to you? Do you long to hear the Bible explained to you? (1 Timothy 4:13). Do you long to hear the God breathed Scripture proclaimed to you? (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Do you long to discern more of God’s truth? Seriously, the goal of the Spirit-led elder is to teach you God’s Word in a way that will benefit you. Yet, I think many members often see the preaching service as just something to sit through. As the pastor unfolds the text, people are often chatting about things unrelated to the sermon. In this generation, we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that people are sometimes surfing social media. Maybe that’s you. Maybe your mind is a thousand miles away while the pastor is preaching. Would you view preaching differently if you were the one preaching? I’m confident you would.
To adequately prepare to preach a text takes hours of study. Much time goes into breaking each verse down phrase-by-phrase and word-by-word. The context and meaning must be ascertained. Commentaries must be read. Language helps must be referenced. Sermons must be listened to. It takes more work to preach a 45-minute sermon than most people have ever considered. If you spent 10-12 hours preparing a 45-minute speech, would you expect people to listen? Would you feel your words are important and life changing? Would it bother you at all if some in the congregation were obviously dozing off – if not physically, then mentally?
If you were called to pastor and you weekly prepared for 10-12 hours to preach a text that you felt like would change the life and direction of the church, would it bother you if seats were empty when you poured your heart out? Would it bother you at all if those people whom you prepared to preach to didn’t show up? (Hebrews 10:24-25). Would you be concerned about their spiritual state? What if this was a regular occurrence? Would it burden you at all? Would you feel these missing people were spiritually immature? Or, perhaps, had they made a false profession? Would it bother you if, instead of attending church, they were taking part in the things the world had to offer – the 4th summer vacation this year or a ballgame or a fishing trip? I’m confident that it would.
If you were called to pastor, would it concern you at all if the membership of your church was more concerned with self indulgence than the salvation of those around them? (Matthew 28:18-20). Would it bother you if the membership was divided between the have’s and the have-not’s? (James 2:1-7). Would it bother you if there was division in the membership over silly preferences that had no Biblical basis whatsoever? (Colossians 2:20-23). Would it bother you if there was gossip or backbiting or resentment between the membership? (2 Corinthians 12:20). Would it bother you when you saw people with gifts who weren’t using them? (Romans 12:3-8). Would it bother you when you saw people attempting to exercise gifts that they clearly do not have?
This is obviously a thought that could be considered for days. That is not the goal. But, it does seem that we have the idea today that the eldership and maybe the deacons are the only ones called to serve in the church. That is not the case. The church is a body that God has joined together. He has pieced the local church together member-by-member and gifted each one uniquely (1 Corinthians 12). If you aren’t doing your part, the body is suffering. If you aren’t present, part of the body is severed. If you aren’t growing, the body is immature.
Take a moment and look at yourself from the pastor’s point of view. Consider that God placed you in a leadership role at a church. Are you the type of member you’d like to see? Now ultimately, we won’t answer to the pastor and we aren’t judged by our own standard. Paul declared to the Corinthian saints, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). But, it would do us all well to see ourselves through the eyes of church leadership. Are we adding to the ministries of the church? Or, are we actually holding the church back from thriving in ministry?
No, God may never place you in a church leadership role. However, if your church leadership is worth their weight, they have goals for you and the church. And, if they’re worthy of their pay, those goals are based on God’s Word. How are you following their lead?
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
Todd Bryant is the Lead Elder at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. He has pastored there since 1998. For more more information on the church and links to audio sermons and apps for electronic devices, visit www.sovereigngrace.net