People Are Leaving the Church – Part Twenty-one

We are looking at “What if churches offered a new way to experience God.”

What if churches actually provided training and equipping for ministry and released people to exercise their ministry both in the congregation but, more importantly, outside the church’s four walls? Then fewer people would be leaving the church disillusioned because they will finally see purpose and meaning in all that is taking place and they will be challenged to grab hold of the big picture to go to every nation and make disciples. People are looking for purpose and a cause worth investing in. With major changes we could both challenge bored believers and show them something worth investing their lives in.

This would require a major change in the way we do ministry and the purpose of the ministry that is now being done. Right now the trained experts known as pastors and priests do the ministry and the people sit and receive.It is a spectator sport. And, the people are given information each time the church meets – information gleaned and shared by the expert. They are asked politely to apply this information to their everyday life but seldom do. And, this information is almost always about how to live a better Christian life and improve their own personal situation or circumstances in life.

The change would require people to no longer just be informed but transformed by the truths being taught. Application would go from 10% of the sermon at the end – a poor way to close a presentation – to 50% or more of the teaching. The book of Romans is 50% application. Paul writes some heavy theology and biblical truths for several chapters and then spends the next few chapters telling his people what to do with the truth and how to use it in their lives to touch others for Jesus. The book of James is 100% application. So, we will need to teach differently – no longer to inform but to apply the truths immediately so that lives are actually transformed.

Secondly, we need to be training God’s people in the doctrines and basic teachings of the Christian faith. However, again, not for information only. Jude 3 states that we need to know how to “earnestly contend for the faith.” This is why we need to train God’s people in the truths of the faith… so they can eagerly defend the faith out in the real world when away from the safety of the church building and the fellowship with like-minded believers. Using their knowledge of what the Christian faith teaches and believes to influence and impact others.

But, more than that. We need to equip God’s people to move in power (Acts 1:8) and function in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Otherwise they can only do half a job when sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom with others. Paul states in Romans 15 that he fully proclaimed the Gospel in words and with deeds. He describes those deeds – miracles, signs, and wonders done in the power of the Spirit. So, we need to be equipping God’s people to move in power and flow regularly in the gifts of the Spirit in their everyday world so that we fully proclaim the Gospel and prove to non-believers that Jesus is alive.

The church is not responsible to supply mature believers with ministry opportunities. The Church is responsible to train and equip God’s people for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12) which takes place where they live – in their neighbourhood, the sports associations they belong to, their work place, where they shop, and where they meet with others for coffee and conversation. Their lives are full of ministry opportunities – they simply need to be trained to see and these opportunities and how to minister within the opportunities that are available to them on a daily basis.

This is a major change in focus for most churches as well as a change in the whole purpose of what is taking place each time God’s people meet. It will require redefining ministry, refining what is taking place in the assembly moving from information to transformation; from a spectator sport with the coach doing all the work and the players sitting and receiving – to the players out there learning how to minister and being released to do so in their real world. It will require us to see what happens within the church as maintenance and not ministry, training and equipping and not just teaching.

Then, as everyone “goes into all their world” we will see people converted to their faith and discipled by those who led them into the Kingdom.

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