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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the twelfth and final point; " 12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

"I'm just not being fed at that church. They just don't have everything that my family needs. Their facilities are sorely lacking. I love it over here. Every week, our praise service is like a huge concert with smoke, lights and special effects. My pastor's a superstar, more people want his autograph than his blessing. My kids get all they could desire at the children's ministry. We get what we want so this must be where God wants us. Church is about what we can get, right? Isn't it? How else can we grow into what God has called us to become?"

Ephesians 4:14-16(NLT) - Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Growth does not come from simply being a part of The Body of Christ and receiving from it. It comes when each part does its own special work. Every part of The Body of Christ has work to do including you and me. This is how Christ put His church together and this is how The Body of Christ grows into a strong, healthy, supernatural organism overflowing with God's Love. Yet week after week, there are Christians all over the US and the rest of the world who go to church services, enjoy the show and go home. The only thing they don't do is eat popcorn and drink slushies as they watch the amazing production that's put on before their eyes.

Due to their consistent attendance, they sometimes feel empowered to even criticize those who actually serve on a weekly basis. If they like what they see on Sunday morning, they give a round of applause and a good offering but if they don't like it, they grumble about what could be better once they reach the privacy of their cars. They went to church to receive from God so if they didn't receive what they came for, something's wrong with that church assembly and somebody needs to fix it. How do I know? I've been there.

For years I sat in a fabulous church and did nothing but watch what was going on around me. I didn't see a need to participate in any meaningful way. I also didn't see where my gifts and talents were even needed. I was there to receive what The Lord had for me so showing up was what mattered and believe me, I was not alone. I felt proud that I didn't miss a Sunday and I even showed up consistently for the midweek services when the crowds were small. That's right! I wasn't a Sunday morning Christian like the rest of them, I attended church during the rest of the week too and God must be so proud of me. Well, not really.

For some reason, many of us have overemphasized the importance of church attendance and under-emphasized the importance of church participation. I agree with Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some do but that's just the beginning. If you're in a church assembly and you're not doing your special part to make it grow in spiritual health and love, are you really even there?

The point is that if you choose a church assembly for what you can get out of it, what you do to serve in the church when you get there is of no consequence. If you're there to get blessed and you're not getting blessed, you probably won't see any other reason to be there. That's why it's easy for some people to attend a church and take from the community of believers without every feeling compelled to give.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Everyone of us has at least one gift from God because everyone of us has a purpose. He won't call us to do anything He didn't give us the gift to do and He won't gift us to do anything He didn't call us to do. God's responsibility was to give the gifts. It is actually the responsibility of each individual Christian to serve God in a local church using the gifts God has given. What does that mean? If you're a church attendee like I used to be, stop warming the bench and get in the game.

Also, if you're on the bench because there's no room for you on the team, it's either not your time or you may be on the wrong team. If it's not your time, then be patient and the opportunity for you will come. However, if you're on the wrong team and it's clear that they don't need you it's time to make a move. There's a team with a vacancy that's tailor made for you and your gifts. Not just that, they're probably praying to God every week that He would send you to them. One of my favorite pastors would say that if two people are completely the same, doing the same things, in the same place, one of them is irrelevant. Let that not be said of you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

As we bring this blog series to a close, let us ponder these final thoughts. Do you believe that The Church is really The Body of Christ and each member including you and me are parts of it? If yes, then think about something with me. If any part of your body does not function the way God designed it to function how do you think it would impact the rest of your body? For instance, what if your heart didn't beat properly? What if your lungs didn't extract oxygen from air anymore?

What if your hand lost its ability to grip? Now take it a step further? What if a part of your body did absolutely nothing at all? For instance, what if your ears did not hear or your eyes did not see? Would that be a problem? Of course! Then why is it that people think it is okay to be a part of The Body of Christ and do nothing while receiving nutrients from the rest of The Body? The scripture above says that God puts each part exactly where He wants it.

What does that mean for you? It means that you are shaped, fashioned and created to fit into a specific place in The Body of Christ. Every member of The Body of Christ was designed by God to be placed in a specific part of the body to carry out a specific function. Eyes see, ears hear, kidneys clean and hearts pump blood not because they want to or it's popular. They do so because that's what God created them to do and if they don't do what they do, the entire body suffers. In fact, any part of the human body that appears not to have a vital function (e.g. appendix) is usually amputated if it ever gives problems.

On another note, every part of The Body of Christ doesn't get to choose where they connect with The Body. They have to be where God has placed them. It might be true that they can attach anywhere and receive from The Body. However, until they are attached where they are supposed to be they will never be able to give to The Body what they were created to give. If my hand is attached to my stomach, it's worthless to my body because that's not where I need a hand. So why is it that some Christians will spend twenty years in a church attached to The Body of Christ where they do not fit?

The Body of Christ has parts all over the place doing all kinds of stuff. We have hands trying to take steps like feet. We have ears trying to talk like mouths. We have toes trying to breathe like lungs. Why? Because we're not positioned according to where we can truly function and serve in God's Kingdom. We positioned ourselves where we want to be and the rest of The Body suffers as a result of it. We also position ourselves where we're most comfortable or receive the most benefit.

Now for my final point about being relevant. If my body has two arms attached to the same shoulder, one is irrelevant. What about thirty arms? Twenty nine are irrelevant. In your church, are you arm number thirty attached to one shoulder waiting for the other twenty nine to die or move so you can get your opportunity? Perhaps, there are twenty nine shoulder sockets in your area missing an arm while that one socket you're attached to has thirty.

Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35(NLT) - All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

What's my point? You're one of the many important parts of the The Body of Christ. Don't attach yourself where it's popular or where you can simply feed off The Body. Attach yourself where you fit and function as you were designed. Covenant membership in The Church is a two-way street. You receive from The Body and you give to it. You are fed by The Body and you feed others in it. That's how God designed His church and that's how it should function. The truth is that if you receive anything from your church it's because someone else is giving it. Again, if you're not in the game, get off the bench and help the team win or join a team that needs your talents.

Acts of the Apostles 20:35(NLT) - And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

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