Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church – 2018 Church Involvement Conference January 19 & 20

Category: The Local Church

Valuing People Intrinsically and Extrinsically

Do We Value People Intrinsically or Extrinsically?

Several years ago our church secretary contracted MS.   I can think of few diseases more humbling and devastating than MS.   This MS attacked this mother of two school girls and wife of a good church leader.   She was no longer able to be our secretary and soon she could no longer drive.   As the disease digressed, she could no longer cook or do any of the domestic duties that she had loved doing for many years.   Her husband took early retirement to care for her.

When she was struggling greatly with this ‘new norm’ she felt useless and even worse, she felt worthless.     I can relate with this in some small way:   when I was fighting cancer over the past eight months, I was weak: I couldn’t work, I could barely walk, I spent the majority of my day getting up, getting dressed, taking meds, eating and exercising, taking treatments and going back to bed.   To say the least, what this mother experienced was very painful—much more painful than what I experienced.

In a feeble attempt to help this Christian sister, I did some study about valuing people; I learned that we either value people because of their intrinsic worth or because of their extrinsic worth.   What’s the difference?

When we value people extrinsically, we value them only because of something that makes them valuable to us:   their looks, money, intelligence, athletic ability, their friendship to us, their work—in other words they are valued for things external to themselves.   Their value is based on who they are, what they can do (for themselves, us or others) or for other obvious reasons.

On the other hand, others of us value people because of their intrinsic value (not so obvious). What is this?   Simply put, this is the value of a person because of their pricelessness.   A person is valuable ‘in and of themselves.’   They are valuable because they are created in the image of God.   This secretary was valuable to her family and the church for many extrinsic reasons but some of those reasons went away with her physical abilities.   But I assured her of her intrinsic worth.   This is one of the many reasons that we value human life no matter the age or physical or mental condition of the person.

How do we value people in the church?  Even though we are not to value people as the world does (cf. Romans 12:1-2), we do.   Sometimes we value only those folks who can give us something, or do something special or those with whom we have a relationship. Sometimes we unintentionally and unknowingly devalue people who are not our age, our gender, our race, etc.  I’ve seen several folks in the church overlooked or not befriended because ‘they have nothing’ to offer (a form of judging).   But we are to love (value each other intrinsically) each other unconditionally (cf. John13:34-35) and accept one another (Rom.15:7).   In spite of our sin, Christ knew our intrinsic value and died for us.   My point?   Everyone is valuable in the world, in the community, and in the church.   We need to treat everyone as valuable because God does.   Many lonely souls sit in church pews because no one values them as does the Lord.   People continue to be lost because we do not value their souls as does the Lord.

Before I move on, I think we should value people extrinsically also.   Is this a contradiction?   No, this is just stating a fact and recognizing that God wants us to honor those to whom honor is due and appreciate those who do the will of God.   To totally not recognize or appreciate extrinsic value in the church and community would also be wrong.   There needs to be balance.

A lesson for involvement ministers:  If we are not careful, as involvement ministers, we may only value those in the body who are active members.   I confess that I get frustrated, angry and disillusioned with members who would prefer to sit in a pew than to serve in the kingdom.   However, they are just as valuable as those who are involved in a half dozen ministries.  They are intrinsically valuable and always will be.   God loves (intrinsically values) them as much as He loves me.

The Lord really emphasizes both values systems.   If you think about it long enough, you will realize that the Lord set up both value systems (in pure form) and follows them both; this simply means we should too.   We are created in His image (intrinsic value) and we are created by Him (his workmanship; Eph.2:10) for good works (extrinsic value); in some very real sense we become more valuable to the kingdom, the world and our families as we use the gifts and blessings God has given us. Either way, we and our souls are worth more than the entire world. We are precious in His sight.

We simply need to recognize our worth and the worth of others in these manners and when we do, we will all be happier and love life more and glorify the Father who loves us just the way we are.   The world will be a better place and the kingdom will grow and grow and grow.

(see an excellent article that touches upon this topic in the latest “Christian Chronicle” by Jonathan Holmes)  http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/are-ministries-reflecting-society-more-than-jesus

Travis Irwin

Athens, TN

Is Attendance Service?

Does Church Attendance Constitute ‘Serving?’

Some very nice members of the church, I’ve  been told,  equate attending Bible classes and worship assemblies as their ‘service’ in the church.   Is Bible class and worship attendance the same or equal to ministry in the church?

If you want my opinion, I would say “No.”   Upon what basis? It is based upon what James says in James 1:22 that we are to be doers and not just hearers of the Word. Hearing the word is not service.   Doing is service and service is doing.

The answer may be “Yes” if members came to the worship assemblies with the purpose of edifying their fellow and sister Christians.  The edifying may be considered as ministering to the assembled saints.    Also most folks don’t participate in the singing of the assemblies, and most rush out of the worship assemblies to get to the local eatery (before other churches do) and thus do not greet or fellowship with other Christians.   There’s not much serving going on in such instances.  Those who remain to greet and encourage after services are using their gifts and are serving.

We usually say that we assemble to worship.   I’d say so.   But hopefully we also assemble to edify and encourage each other.  In my estimation, edification and encouragement may be considered as serving others.    Sitting and listening are not necessarily service.   Participation with the intent of glorifying God and edifying one another would be considered as service.

What about those who lead worship or those who teach our classes?   We speak of those who ‘serve’ at the Lord’s table and from that standpoint those who lead us in worship are serving.   Those who prepare and teach/preach Bible lessons, I believe are serving.   Such folks are using their gifts and are serving.

What’s my point?   If you are a Christian and you want to be a serving Christian—not just a Christian in name—you will want to use/exercise what God has given you in the area of service or ministry in your home, in your workplace, in your school, in your community and yes, in your church even in the assemblies.    For example, if you have the gift of pastoring, you will shepherd sheep.   If you have the gift of exhortation, you will exhort.   If you have the gift of giving, you will give liberally.   You need to discover what your gift is and use it (go to www.churchinvolvement.com for more information on The I Serve U Inventories).

I suggest to you, in my opinion, sitting in a pew and listening (and looking around) are not the same as service (and the same for attending a Bible class).   I remember a sign I saw years ago over the entrance into a church’s auditorium; it read:  “Enter to worship, leave to serve.”   Sounds reasonable to me.    What do you think?  I’d like to hear from you.

We need to teach and train our brethren that they need to attend Bible classes and worship assemblies to become more like Christ (to become serving disciples) and to honor the One who saves us.   We also need to teach them that service is doing something active versus something passive (sitting) and that service will go outside the four walls of a church edifice.

Trav

 

I Believe in the Local Church

countrychurch2I have always been impressed with missionaries and at times have found myself a bit envious of missionaries.   I am impressed with missionaries and their families because of their great love for those they don’t even know in some other part of the world.   I admire them for the dedication and sacrifice found in leaving the comforts of family and home for the good of others.   These are very special people and I thank God for them.

And, yet I am also impressed with the local church.   I’ve done a small bit of mission work, but my heart is in (what preachers call) ‘local work.’   I strongly believe in the local church.   I have been involved with local churches since I was a small boy (when my father did local work) and I have been involved with local church work for almost 50 years.   I do not wish to downplay the importance of mission work. However, I want to share some reasons why the local church’s importance should be not overlooked or be minimized.

The local church supports foreign and domestic missions.   While we are on the topic of foreign missions, I must remind everyone that it is local congregations that usually support foreign missions with manpower and money.   They are also supportive of domestic missions here in the States.

The local church prepares men and women for service.   Many congregations have solid Bible schools and youth ministries to prepare young people for Christian living and service.   The local church provides what many of our homes do not in this area.

The local church attempts to meet local needs.   There are many congregations that are heavily involved in meeting local needs.   Some churches provide food or clothing or furnishings or housing.   Some provide counseling and other services. Local churches can’t do it all and yet many of them attempt to meet real needs in their communities.

The local church attempts to reach the lost locally.   Where members are encouraged and equipped for service, many of those members reach out to their lost friends and neighbors and bring them to the Lord.   Some congregations still have gospel meetings while others have special events and classes that appeal to the unchurched.

The local church provides a haven of worship and edification.   The local church provides a place where her members can congregate to worship the Lord, but she also—through her members—provides encouragement and edification to weary members week after week and year after year.

I contend that church leaders must do all they can, in their positions with the Lord’s help, to make the local church strong and a blessing to all who know of her and to all that she attempts to serve.

One of the best ways these goals can be achieved is to help the members of our local churches discover, develop and deploy their non-miraculous spiritual gifts.   Churches who have done this have members that bless their families, the local church and the community in which the church resides. Please allow me to assist you in blessing your members in this manner.   Trav

travisirwin@att.net

 

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