The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXXII
Back before convenience stores, in the era of milkmen actually delivering milk to your door, there was a time when you could buy “whole” milk. What a concoction? You would find a section of cream floating on the top, and you would shake your bottle to mix it with the rest of its contents before drinking. Another option is to skim your cream and make ice cream from it and drink the rest of its contents. Today we have eliminated the “cream” where only a fraction of our milk contains the fat or cream, thus 2%, 1%, or skim milk, which health advocates claim is healthier for you.
If you would allow me, let’s use the milk analogy to today’s church. If we would “skim” the cream, the pastor and the paid staff from your church, what would be left in your church’s life, activity, and ministry? Does the rest of those in your church do 2%, 1% or even an anemic less percent of the work and ministry, and is the church considered “healthy” if it does?
I believe the five fold is the opportunity to serve according to one’s passion, desire, or point of view for the saints, those remaining after the “cream” has been skimmed: those saints who want to win their lost and dying generation; those saints who care for the sick, those afflicted, facing dramatic life situations, the hurting, for the purpose of caring, nurturing, and developing them in to mature Christ-like people; those who have faithfully studied the word academically for years, but now yearn to release that knowledge of the Word into a living, vibrant Word through their daily life; those who have a passion to “know God”, hear from God, be obedient to God; and those who see the big picture of all these passions, wanting to serve them and release them, but being frustrated because of not being allowed because they were not looked upon as being part of the “cream”.
If we then shake the bottle, the church, causing each of these passions to serve each another and be accountable to each another by laying their lives down for one another, we will have what was originally intended at its creation, whole milk, a whole church, a rich church, a healthy church.
The life of the Church is in its people, not is structure or professional staff, for if those are skimmed from the picture, what is left? Look at the underground Church in persecuted lands where pastors are targeted for prison, persecution, or even death. With their elimination came even a stronger “believer base”, the contents of their milk of ministry, service, and Christian life was even more enriched.
My call is for the people of God, the believers in Jesus Christ to arise, allow the Holy Spirit to do some “shaking” of our structures, forcing believers to be what they were intended to be in Jesus. That shaking will cause an infusion of God’s people, not the separation. When the church becomes stagnant, like pure milk, the particles will separate and a hierarchy of cream will try to arise to take “control”, causing a separation rather than allowing God to continually “shake” our bottle, our structure, so that the body will continue to be infused, joined, united together. Do the saints in your church feel they are part of whole milk, the whole local body of Christ, or only a fraction of it? What percent of your church participates in the ministry, the decision making, and the serving ministries if the paid staff would be eliminated?
A healthy church is a church that allows a whole lot of shaking to continually happen by the Holy Spirit! Does your cream rise, or is it continually shaken to be part of the “whole” milk? Are there two parts in your mik bottle, your church, the professional staff and the others, producing a clergy/laity division? Leadership in the 21st Century Church comes from the shaking by the Holy Spirit, causing infusion of all believers through “serving” one another, dying for one another, and remaining with those of different passions, desires, and points of view in this interweaving concoction. Leadership is not allowing stagnation, forcing the doers and non-doers and the haves and have-nots to separate, allowing the doers and haves to rise and the non-doers and have-nots to sink causing separation. All believers in Jesus Christ “have” his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and all believers are to be “doers” of the Word, so let the shaking begin and continue.