After being in church ministry in one capacity or another for my entire life, I can tell you that I have seen the church become a revolving door many times over. People come and go, never satisfied with the church for one reason or another. Either they didn’t like the pastor, the music team or style, didn’t think it had a good kids or youth program, or overall just didn’t fit with the style or possibly the philosophy of the church. But one thing from experience that I have come to find out for myself, is that the church’s revolving door hinges on one problem…that people are not finding true community & fellowship, true acceptance and long-term love & care by the attending members. This is what the church is supposed to be about, right? Not a building, not a big congregation, but about spurring each other on in the faith. Not coming for a show, then placing our admission fee in the offering basket and calling it tithing, Because tithing is so much more than 10% of your earnings. It’s your time, resources, attitude and more.
Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 17:20-21
The truth is, there are a lot of broken and hurting people who come to church. There are a lot of people who are messed up. But no one feels safe enough to admit it. So we put on our church face every week, try to look like a strong leader who has it all together, unable to admit when we are ‘human’ because we’re afraid of being stoned or burned at the stake. Because that’s what people do in churches after all. Instead of loving people into a passionate relationship with Christ, we condemn them into it, don’t allow them to be who they are, where they are, and see the potential of who they can become in Christ. When people come to us wanting to be “used” in ministry, we have only a few ministry opportunities and pre-designed formats that they can step into. But many people don’t fit into these molds. Many people have a great story to tell, and God wants to use it to help others in a very special way. But we aren’t allowed to do that at church. We’re only allowed to serve in specific pre-designed pockets of ministry. How does that lead to a deeper purpose and fulfillment? Helping pass the offering plate from one row to the next, or handing out programs is a good start, and very much needed. But is that the call on your life that you’ve been hoping for?
And if we can “master” those pre-designed opportunities at an entry level, and prove ourselves worthy, then just maybe, we might be approved to get a bigger position because after all, you have to earn your right to to do ministry, right? Can you sense my sarcastic tone here? Yeah, that’s me, and it’s really put some people off who are way too serious and need a sense of humor in their Christianity. It’s one of the many flaws that I have that have kept me from “advancing up the corporate church ladder”. I have the heart to do ministry, and have had to find my own path to do it. Because the truth is, like many people, I’ve been one of the casualties of churches and their lack of real family. I attended my previous church for 6 years. As soon as I took a break from my “entry level ministry position” I’d been in for the last 6 years to prove myself worthy of advancing further (mind you after already doing all the senior level hard stuff before I even attended there), took a break to follow God’s real call on my life, nobody even noticed I was gone or missed me. No one even extended prayer support as I ventured out on this “big deal” in my life. I could have used the support system. But if I wasn’t serving on some kind of team that got together every week, no one even thought about me or missed me enough to check in with me. I think that’s pretty sad and sorry. But it happens. I’m ok about it. But what I’m not ok about is that it happens to too many people that come to church, and go right back out through that revolving door…because they didn’t receive what they really needed from people. We’re too busy running our programs and being busy, that we forget the real reason we’re supposed to get together in the first place. Even the small groups I’ve experienced have the same mentality. Everybody’s got the “it’s not my job” attitude when it comes to caring for people. But it IS our job. It’s my job, and I take it very seriously like a calling, and it’s YOUR job if you are a Christ follower.
Here’s the deal. I have never ever fit into any of these pre-designed molds, and I know a lot of other people haven’t either. Yet we still keep playing this church game. So much more could have been done, so many lost people could have been reached if people like the hard edged biker dude was allowed to lead a ministry, a Bible Study, or something… to reach those bikers he meets on the road. But his church didn’t condone it, and he had to go through all kinds of classes and hoops to prove himself spiritually worthy enough to lead it. The X-prostitute wasn’t allowed to advance into any kind of leadership position because of her past and the Church leadership wanted to make sure she was “really” free from that. Thank God for Annie Lobert-Fox who didn’t wait for anybody to tell her that she could start a ministry to prostitutes, using her unique story to reach others for Christ. Or Craig Gross starting a ministry to reach the porn industry and have the boldness to really show unconditional love & meeting some of the basic needs of women who lived in a brothel by doing something as simple as painting the walls & fixing it up. Controversial Christianity – that’s what Jesus was all about.
God calls all kinds of people to minister, to use their stories in life and share their experiences, and most of these stories, though very common in the world, are not commonly heard of in the church. We do a whole lot of talking about it, but when it comes down to it, we’ve become too corporate, too judgmental, and too closed minded and our reputation as “the church” is not one of martyrdom as some would like to boast, it’s an embarrassing reputation that even many Christians have become disgusted with. But there is a new, real church emerging. It’s emerging with people who want to be real, and represent a real Jesus to people they come across, not just play the revolving door church game.
If you’re thinking about the other side of the coin and have an argument about respecting your appointed leadership, I don’t think you’re getting my point and I really don’t care to debate with religious mindsets. I’m done with those types. I’m going to be part of the new revolution that shares Christ in a real way, not just invites them to their weekly meeting, but really reaches real people, who are desperate to know a real Savior, but just aren’t getting it in the revolving door attached to a building. If you’re ready to take on something real, go deeper, and speak life and power into other’s lives, to really be used to minister to others, then your mindset has to come away from the weekly church service mentality of Christianity, and into a whole new realm, a whole new mindset, and a whole new lifestyle. It’s time. The revolution is upon it. Will you join the army?