A Prayer to Build Up the Church
By Malinda Fuller
“For when two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
You’ve heard the pleas from the pastor on the weekend or watched the well-edited video announcements that include the following words: “get involved,” “sign-up,” or “connect.” Chances are, if you’ve grown up at church, or been a part of one for any length of time, you have been asked to help in some capacity: the children’s ministry needs volunteers, the offices need to be painted, or the food pantry is in desperate need of extra hands.
This cry for help is as long-standing as the ask for financial contributions, and yet you’d probably be surprised to hear that there are still other things that your church wishes you would do.
Stop showing up late. Sure, everyone has the morning where the alarm fails, the gas light turns on as soon as you pull out of the driveway, and every parent with small children has endured the inevitable "potty" incident as you're trying to get out the door. Don't worry; there's grace. But if you slip in with a seven-syllable Starbucks drink, chances are eyes will roll. The worst is when the children become your excuse, yet you can manage to get all four of your kids out the door, to school, and checked into childcare in time for your 9 a.m. pilates class--three days a week. If you can make your morning workout a priority, then surely you can do the same once a week for church services.
Stop complaining. It gets old; the complaints about the sound--whether it's too loud, or too quiet. The music won't appeal to everyone; you don't need to voice your opinion at the end of every service. Obviously, most speakers welcome constructive criticism, but not after every message. The complaints need to stop. If God has placed you there, then it's with purpose. Be there and be positive, or find somewhere else in town to get rooted.
Stop making excuses. It's understandable that when you have two kids under two you may not have time to volunteer. If you're pulling yourself out from underneath a huge amount of debt, then no, it's not the time to give to the local outreach or to bless the building project in Kenya. But, when your kids reach high school years, or it's well known that your company has taken off, those excuses just don't fly. Whether you've been dodging getting connected, giving, serving, or just choosing to plant roots and make it a permanent home, some people can come up with endless excuses. It gets old quickly; stop it.
Commit to your own spiritual growth. It isn’t up to your pastor, elders, and worship leaders to make sure you’re growing. Personal faith is about digging into the word on your own, growing your prayer life, and committing to discipleship. With a vast amount of studies, books, and podcasts in today's Christian market, there is no excuse for you to become stagnant in your faith. The role of the senior pastor is to shepherd the whole flock, not be your personal accountability--that's what community is for. Outreach, serving others, fasting, giving--there are so many ways for you to take your faith to the next level; get to it.
Get involved. There are seasons to rest, to grieve, to refuel. However, God also calls us to be bold and courageous, yet some people appear timid and aloof. Often worship services look more like a spectator event than one of joyous celebration; similarly the complaints of "lack of community" could be mended if you took a step of faith. Worship, kids, military, the homeless--there are countless ways to get involved. Find something that pulls on your heart, and become part of the solution.
Get to know your neighbor. The church is not meant to be a social club, but often that's what happens. When Jesus told us to "love your neighbor," it was as much a figurative statement as it was literal. Get to know your neighbor; learn their names and those of their children. Yes, invite them to Easter service, but even more, invite them into your home. Find ways to socialize outside of church: get a gym membership, play on the local softball team, hang out with your co-workers and know what the needs are in your community.
A Prayer to Build Up the Church:
Father, help me to be a generous giver--with my time and resources. Show me how to build the community I long for and how to be part of the solution instead of complaining and comparing. Forgive me where I have been lazy or apathetic instead of bold and engaged; I want to grow in my faith this year. Help me to do that, and to be a blessing in my church community. Amen.
Editor’s Note: Content taken from “10 Things Your Church Wishes You Would Do” by Malinda Fuller. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.