I needed to purchase an item for the online ministry I am able to do. This includes the Daily Notes I write. I ordered the product from a store, and after about six weeks waiting I was informed yesterday that it was ready for collection. The way the store works is that from the moment they inform you that the item ordered is in the store, you have 48 hours to collect it. I went to the store in Menlyn this morning to collect the item. Everything went smoothly until I needed to pay. I had transferred the money into my credit card account that I seldom use, giving the account a credit balance.
The idea behind this was to gain more “x” reward points. I handed over my card only to be told that the transaction was declined due to an insufficient “swipe” amount on the card. No problem as the funds are there … so I asked the salesman whether there was a “X” Bank in the mall. He said there was and explained where to find it. He said he would hold the product for me, and off I went in search of the bank. I found it easily … but the queue was long … long because it was social distancing. I was 10th in the queue. It was about an hour before I got into the bank.
Just before I was ready to be assisted, a lady brought her mother to the security guard, saying her mother could not stand in the queue as she is old and is walking with wheeler/support gadget. She was told to move into the bank, but out of the way … and she turned the gadget around and sat on it. The reception lady then asked me if she could help that lady first. Naturally, I allowed the lady to go first … sadly her daughter ought to have used another line to jump the queue. Soon I was registered and told to find a seat. There were easily 15 to 20 people seated … though the number grew substantially. Remember I stood in the queue for an hour … and now I sat on a chair without a back rest for another hour before being called.
I must say the security guard granting access, the reception lady at the front desk, the consultant who helped me and the supervisor who assisted the consultant with authorization codes were so friendly, helpful, polite and professional. In less than 15 minutes I was out of the bank and back at the store to collect my order. This time the card worked perfectly and I was on my way home. The sad thing about the bank was not the social distancing and front desk … there were only three or four consultants on duty. This is what delayed things. Some people needed lots of time to be helped as their business was more complicated than mine. Six workdays before Christmas. The mall was very busy … and one would have thought that by 9.15am when I stood in the queue, the bank would have had more staff on duty to move the customers quicker than they did.
This experience caused me to think of another environment where often workers are few. In fact, the norm is that this organization has the potential staff but very few offer to work. The result is this organization tends to function by doing the urgent and ignoring the important. It’s not that the important does not need to be done, but there is no one to do it … so the available staff do the urgent, and sadly the urgent is not always necessary … but it’s like window dressing … it makes the organization look or appear to look better. You guessed it right. I am referring to the most important organization on earth … The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ! The reason it is the most important organization is because the sole purpose of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to “save souls” and “prepare the saints for service and glory”. Often we succeed with evangelism (getting souls saved) and, in part, preparing souls for glory … but preparing souls for service is another matter. I would think it’s here that we fail dismally! Far too often, people think the work of the pastor is to do all the work of ministry … without realizing the congregation are the actual ministers in the church. Although we have been here before, let’s listen to what God says about the members of the body.
Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
The pastor is a teacher. His main task apart from evangelism is to prepare God’s people for works of service (v12). But notice the purpose of the works of service … to build up the body of Christ. No pastor can do everything in the church, yet when each member does a ministry or two, the work load is lessened and the pastor can prepare better, teach better, pastor better and pray more! But this is only possible when the members take responsibility and fulfil duties they are capable of such as visitation (both house and hospital), children, teen and young adult ministry, music and singing, refreshments, ushering, lift clubs, breakfasts, electronics, maintenance, gardening, etc. … but too often when invitations go out the responses are so few or not at all.
Like with that understaffed bank, the few consultants work so hard and land up drained and less productive … so with the church. The pastor tries to cover all bases but lands up doing the urgent and leaving the important for “another day” because he can’t get to it all. Part of leaving the important is cutting corners on preparation and prayer. Then his function is hampered and his true work of bringing unity, maturity, stability and getting everyone to participate will be ruined. See the positive side in Ephesians:
Eph 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
O Lord, so often we call You Lord but fight against living under Your reign. We know You want each one of us to do our duty in the church. Please forgive our resistance and help us to be willing servants for Jesus’ sake. Amen.