The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXVI
In public education I have been told that students will perform better if you raise the bar of expectation. You only get what you expect. I have seen expectations erode over the years as a public school teacher in the name of good grades, honor rolls, and parental approval. It is a common belief that if you lower the expectations, you reduce the chance of failure, yet many still fail. Why? Because we do not expect much from them, thus motivation dwindles, replaced by student “entitlement”. Students expect passing grade without the effort, motivation, nor work that is needed to successfully achieve. They feel “passing” is a “right”, not a “privilege” or something “to be earned”. As we have watered down expectations, we, in the United States, have seen student performance erode to new, lower levels, falling drastically behind other countries who still value education, motivation, and aren’t afraid to keep higher expectations.
I have seen this influence the church too! My question to the leadership of the 21st Century Church is, “What do you expect from those who make up the Body of Christ? As long as there is staff to cover the church’s needs, then not much is expected except for the finances to cover the paid staff’s salaries and benefits. That is where most churches are today.
What should we, the Church, expect from each other as members of the Body of Christ? Should we raise the bar of expectations, or just allow people to filter in and out of our churches according to their needs, wants, and whims? How can those believers who expect the church to “serve” them be changed into ones we can expect to serve others? That is raising the bar. How do we get people to raise the bar of service if they expect to be served and have no idea how to serve others?
This is where the five fold is a necessity for the 21st Century Church, because the purpose of the five fold according to Ephesians 4 is to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”(NIV) To raise the bar, the Church needs to “prepare” God’s people for “works of service”. We need to birth, care, nurture, and develop believers into “servers”. It is a process! We need to do this until “we all reach unity in the faith”, and today with all the divisions in the body of Christ that would have to be a miracle, a “God Moment”! It seems not to be short term, nor close to fulfillment. The knowledge that needs to be taught, trained, and developed in a believer is not “academic”, but “in the knowledge of the Son of God.” It is “knowing”, “experiencing” God in our everyday lives. All this caring, training, and developing for the purpose of becoming “mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” You cannot raise the bar any higher than that!
It take the Church, the entire body of Christ, to do this development of spiritual character of service in each and every believer, that is why you need the five different points of view and passions, working together, to create this unity, this knowledge, and this maturity. No Sr. Pastor, nor paid staff, can attain the bar that has been raised this high. It takes the entire body, you, me, and all our other brothers and sisters in the Lord together in the effort. The challenge of the 21st Century Church is to transform the reputation of “pew sitters” to “active participants” of service. How do you do this? You do it through birthing, caring, nurturing, and developing each and ever believer toward the goal of knowing their God and maturing into the full measure of Jesus Christ. This is what the five fold is all about!
I think if the Church began working toward this raised bar, they would see those believers who love Jesus respond in service. If the leadership allows their sheep to be released to serve, there would be an evangelistic explosion and development in the Church.
But the cry could be that no man can attain that status. Wrong! There was one man who did, Jesus. God sent Jesus, His Son, to the earth to prove that man can do it when if the “fullness of Jesus Christ”. He then released the Holy Spirit to the earth to teach man the process of how to attain this knowledge and maturity. Until the Church releases and allows the Holy Spirit to do what he is suppose to do through those he has been training to do “the works of service”, the bar will remain low, and the response and fruit minimal.