Every once in a while I sit down with our member directory and note every ministry every member is involved in. It always pleasantly surprises me.
We are not a “program church.” By design we keep our service schedule tight and avoid meeting at any times besides Sundays and Wednesdays. Yet, almost every member of our church is busy serving in three or four significant ministries. These will include everything from nursery staff, to setting up (lots of!) chairs, to serving seniors at a nearby nursing home, to greeting people at the door.
As vital as all these ministries are, they pale in comparison to that whole other level of ministry that is taking place at the same time – Christians serving other Christians. The members of our church take fellowship seriously, and seek to build into each other’s lives all the time. I am amazed to overhear snippets of conversations week by week as I stroll the hall. I am encouraged to catch glimpses of brothers meeting for meals during the week in order to sharpen each other spiritually. I smile at established members inviting “new people” over for a meal. I am thrilled to observe older women serving younger women, to see grown men taking time to build relationships with unbelieving kids in our church family, to hear of “secret” financial gifts to those in need and to watch the tidal movement of authentic Christian community.
Then there is the consistent evangelism of the lost. We meet to pray every week and every week our members ask to pray for certain folks to whom they have spoken the Gospel.
How could one measure this? Part of its beauty is that it is so real and “of the moment” and carried along by the Spirit that it could never be scripted or assessed.
I think that is a very important thing to remember when we evaluate church. We might be tempted to set up a grid that lists particular ministries to particular age groups or demographics. Or, we might think the only evangelism that really counts is the stuff we do “officially” as a group. In a market-driven culture these look like decent measures. They are not the ones God uses.
Real people engaging real people with the real Truth. This is what it means to be part of a real local church. And I absolutely love mine!