The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXIX
As a public school teacher, I am told that the tax payers’ dollars are going toward investing in the children of our school district, for they are the future. As a church-attender, I am also told that the children are our investment, and the youth are the future of the church. In the 21st Century, the corner community church of local residents is rare. People drive by each other on Sundays attending churches every which way but their own neighborhood. The youth, our so-called future, go off to college then move away from the area to job markets that can support their degrees. Others slowly drift away while seeking their identities when in the twenties. It always amazes me how many famous secular musicians were birthed and nurtured in the church, only to out grow the musical limitations placed on them, and leave for greener secular pastures. We birthed them, trained them, then lose them.
So I ask, “What is the 21st Century Church Truly Investing In?” What is its future? It’s direction? Its goals?
Instead of tax dollars, where are “offering dollars” going, for where that money is spent tells what is truly important to that church. Where are your “offering dollars” going? What percentage of your church budget goes to staff, staffing needs, and materials for the staff to use? What percentage for building and grounds? How much of the budget that is given by those in the congregation directly goes back to the congregation to develop them in their spiritual growth? How much to missions locally? Nationally? Internationally?
Ephesians 4 says we are to equip, prepare, nurture, and develop the “saints”, those in the church, not just the “staff” for the “work of the service.” Our investment should be “the people” who are in the church, make up the church, who are the Church! Any revival begins with “investing” in the “saints”, those common believers who are the Church! But how many churches look upon their mission as developing their own “people” to do the “work” of the Church through service? Not every person can minister “full time” as a professional, but every person can “serve” “all the time”, at work, at home, while playing, visiting, fellowshipping, even if it is their spouse, etc.
What do we get for our investment? I remember having to “buy” the paper back book I used in our local small group Bible study. The church didn’t buy them for us as “an investment”. Then again, the results of our book study were discussions on the topics outlined in the book and fellowship afterwards. If the book was on “service”, we discussed it, but did we change and go out and serve? If the book was about “evangelism”, we again discussed it, but never did we go out into our community evangelizing. A new book, a new topic with more discussion every 9 weeks, but with the same results, no change in our lives or the way we “did church” because of our studies. So what does it mean to “equip the saints for the work of the service?” How are we, the church, to invest in ourselves to be more effective, more Christ-like, more mature in the faith, and more productive?
Let’s take a deeper look at that question.