Church is a place where Christians build each other up. Some thoughts on playing your part at church.
“ …to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph 4:12-13; 15)
The Bible says that church is where Christians gather to hear God speak to us through the Bible. His purpose is to equip us all for building each other up in our faith in Christ in order to serve him in the world. Put like that, it changes the way we think about our Sunday meetings.
Each of us has a part to play in this by speaking the truth in love through the preaching, through our singing and in our conversations. Working as a team, coordinated by our church leadership, we can use our different abilities, experience and opportunities to build Dundonald Church. (The Bible calls this ‘edification.’) We are not, therefore, merely passengers on a bus, or consumers in a store. Nor is church just an event where we are entertained, or a club we attend for our enjoyment. Church should be more about serving others than serving ourselves.
These biblical principles shape our thinking here at Dundonald, for our life as a church in general and for our Sunday gatherings in particular. So here are some things to think about when it comes to making the most of Sundays in order to build others up in their faith and to be built up in Christ ourselves. They’re aspirations, not rules, so do what you can with them and don’t worry about the things you can’t always manage. We know it isn’t always easy, but as a church, we do want to lift our game. Here’s how we can make a start…
1. LISTEN ACTIVELY
Listen carefully to what God is saying to us in his word. Think carefully about what you are hearing and what you might need to change in your life as you respond to God’s word. People ‘in the pews’ also have an enormous impact on those who are teaching and leading. Communication is always a two-way process. Eye contact, body language and other basic responses make a big difference to the sense of engagement during the service. Our active listening will also infect others with enthusiasm for God’s word, just as our fidgeting or lack of engagement will distract them. Unbelievers amongst us will also pick up that these ideas are worth listening to if they see rows of regulars tuned in, soaking up the Bible and taking notes.
2. SING WITH ‘HEART’
Singing is a chance for us to praise God for who he is, what he has done and what he is now teaching us, and for declaring what it is we believe. We sing because our God and his salvation are too wonderful just to talk about. The way we sing is a demonstration of our heart’s devotion to God, both for God’s sake, and for the sake of others who will be encouraged to see us abandoning our inhibitions for the sake of praising God. It doesn’t matter whether we are good or bad at singing, or whether or not we raise our hands or close our eyes. What matters is the heart.
3. GET WITH THE PROGRAMME
At a church like Dundonald there’s a lot going on. That means we always have plenty to cover during Ministry Matters: guest events, away days, social engagement ministries – and lots more. Many of these need your practical help and many of them simply need to find their way in to your diary. If one of you is busy in crèche or helping with the children’s work that doesn’t always happen! We can serve one another by engaging with what’s coming up over the next few weeks, by talking to others about it (enthusiasm is usually contagious) and by encouraging people to join us at a particular event. Rather than being consumers who browse the menu for what’s on offer we can behave like brothers and sisters who support family events.
4. LOOK FOR WAYS TO HELP
‘One body, many parts,’ means we all have a part to play. Which means if something needs doing, don’t always leave it to someone else! This might involve logistics (shifting chairs, closing doors, clearing up the mess) but more often than not it will involve people. That’s where we most need to be on the ball. If a baby is crying and mum & dad aren’t sure whether to step outside or where to go, we can help them. If a new family don’t look very sure of what’s happening or don’t have anyone to talk to, go and say hello – and introduce them to others. Whatever it is, don’t just leave it to someone else.
This paper is adapted and developed from selected excerpts taken from Colin Marshall ‘The Ministry of the Pew’ published in The Briefing #131, March 1994 by Matthias Media.
PART 3 next week…