A few years ago Thom Rainer (from Lifeway here in Nashville) did a study of the congregations in America. Rough estimates suggest that about 10% of congregations are healthy; 40% have symptoms of sickness; 40% are very sick; and 10% are dying.
Of those churches that are very sick or are dying, he found that one of the major symptoms was that people were simply occupying a pew every Sunday. One mark of a healthy church is what we read in the New Testament about every member serving in some way to build up the church.
In 1 Cor. 12:4-7 Paul wrote to the church about the fact that every church member has some gift to use to build up the church. It is important for the health of MCC that each member find where they are gifted to serve and then put those gifts to use.
There are at least 3 reasons I see that keep people from serving in the church.
- Exhaustion – people are so busy the rest of the week and not getting proper rest that they feel they no energy in the tank to serve in the church. They reverse the words of Jesus – they come to be served rather than to serve. This needs correction.
- Lack of awareness – some good Christian people do not realize how God has gifted them to serve. We are offering a class for this at our Wednesday night Spring Training. We begin with the First Pitch this Wednesday at 6:00 with a meal and then a time of worship and prayer;
- Criticism – one of the ways the enemy will get people to pull away from being too involved in the church and to bury their gift (so to speak) and not use it is through people in the church criticizing them. The power of the tongue is astounding. James chapter 3 is devoted to focusing on how such a small part of the body is full of destructive power.
Let me ask you to consider something – how are you using your tongue as it applies to the church. You see one thing that marks a sick church is people not serving. But another factor that is a sign of sick and dying church is a critical tongue. How are you using your tongue in the church? Are you critical or an encourager? If you see others trying to serve and use their gift, encouragement goes a long way to making the church healthy. But a critical spirit can kill a congregation. Will you make it your aim to contribute to the health of MCC?