The following comes from an article by John MacArthur in the Pulpit Magazine. It is a great article that I think applies very definitely to our church, Vision Baptist Church! The bold print is mine to emphasize points that I really want you to take to heart for our church!
Christianity is not a spectator sport. Practically the worst thing any churchgoer can do is be a hearer but not a doer (James 1:22-25). Christ himself pronounced doom on religious people who want to be mere bystanders (Matthew 7:26-27).
Something is seriously wrong in a church where the staff does all the â€œministryâ€ and people are made to feel comfortable as mere observers. One of the pastorâ€™s main duties is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12). Every believer is called to be a minister of some sort, with each of us using the unique gifts given us by God for the edification of the whole church (Rom. 12:6-8).
Thatâ€™s why Scripture portrays the church as a bodyâ€”an organism with many organs (1 Corinthians 12:14), where each member has a unique role (vv. 15-25), and all contribute something important to the life of the body. â€œAnd if one member suffers, all the members suffer with itâ€ (v. 26).
I canâ€™t read that verse without thinking of Dizzy Dean. He was a Hall-of-Fame baseball pitcher, whose career peaked in the 1930s. His 1934 season has never been excelled by any pitcher in history. Dean won thirty games that year, a feat that hasnâ€™t been repeated since (though Dizzy himself came close, winning 28 games the following year). But in the 1937 All-Star game, he took a hard line drive off his toe, and the toe was broken. It should not have been a career-ending injury, but Dean was rushed back into the lineup before the fracture was completely healed, and he pitched several games favoring the sore toe. That led to an unnatural delivery that seriously injured his pitching arm. The arm never fully recovered. Dizzy Deanâ€™s major-league career was essentially over in four years.
Something similar happens in any church where there are non-functioning members. The active members of the body become overextended, and the effectiveness of the whole body suffers greatly. Even the most insignificant member, like a toe, is designed to play a vital role.
That truth has been one of the main foundations of my approach to ministry for many years. When I first became pastor of Grace Community Church in 1969, I taught a series on Ephesians, and we spent a great deal of time studying the principle of Ephesians 4:11â€”that the pastorâ€™s duty is to equip the saints, and it is their duty to shoulder the work of the ministry.
Our people quickly embraced that simple idea, and it transformed our church in a remarkable way. For one thing, we began to see dramatic growth. Within a matter of months, attendance on Sundays had ballooned to almost 1,000. About that same time, a well-known evangelical magazine asked a reporter to write an article about the growth of our church. He visited our services for several weeks, carefully observed how the ministry functioned, interviewed scores of people, and then wrote an article titled â€œThe Church with 900 Ministers.â€
That title perfectly summarized what has made Grace Church unique for all these years. Nowadays we have several thousand ministers, but the principle is still the same. Everyone is expected and encouraged to be involved in active ministry. Almost no one in our church would ever view ministry as the exclusive domain of professional clergy. If you want to be comfortable as a mere spectator, Grace Church is not the church for you.