As with most organizations, the church tends to follow the 80/20 rule. How should a pastor encourage others to get involved in church activities? Accept leadership positions? Participate in Sunday Worship? Is this even a pastor’s responsibility?
Bluntly put, there is nothing that a pastor, as a human being, can do to accomplish what is described in this question. We can try to wheedle, cajole, and shame people into becoming more “active” in the church. But that sort of approach really missed the point of what membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is all about.
Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is and must be grounded in a living and life-giving relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. Moving out in active service to Jesus Christ grows out of a deepening relationship with Jesus. My role as pastor is to diligently work with individuals and groups to nurture that deepening relationship and to open them to experience the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
As people are growing in that living relationship with Jesus, it becomes urgent that the pastor and other church leaders engage in the work of training and equipping individuals and groups in the work of ministry. That focus of equipping people for ministry must be an explicit priority of the church’s leadership and a prominent aspect of the church’s mission. This equipping work is not merely a matter of teaching skills. It is ultimately a matter of opening Christian people up to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit, who is the One who actually does the work of ministry through each of us. When people experience that empowering and see its fruit, motivation generally ceases to be a problem.
It’s easy for churches to get sidetracked by misunderstanding the very nature of the church and its ministry. Many churches have the idea that the church is primarily an organization and that ministry simply the work of maintaining that organization. That is a stunted conception of ministry. It is unworthy of the name and not something that will capture the imaginations of many people. The organization of the church is not an end in itself. The Church exists as a means through which God’s people engage in their primary calling, namely, the transformation and redemption of the world. A vision for that kind of transformative and redemptive mission becomes irresistible to those called Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
© 2013 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved.