Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blog: (Part 6) Values & Practices Unpacked

At first glance, "Every Member Ministers" looks identical to a core value held by many churches. I know more than one church that even has the phrase "Every Member Is A Minster" printed on their weekly service bulletins.

But those two phrases are NOT the same.

Every Member Is a Minister (the typical phrasing) names a spiritual identity. I agree with this. 1 Peter 2:9 is one example of many verses on the priesthood of all believers.

But while I agree, I also find the typical phrase insufficient. It names a passive status and leaves members in a typical church sitting quietly, with no regular opportunity on Sunday to live out the truth of their spiritual position.

Of course, they always have the chance to serve as ministers on their own throughout the rest of the week. But if it's so critical (printed on the bulletin implies importance), then why is it relegated to the leftover time? (See the posts on Growth Through Practice for more on why we try to practice our ministry skills in the service, not just talk about them.)

In contrast, our value, "Every Member Ministers", names both the identity AND the behavior of our members. We literally design our gatherings so that every member engages God and each other every week. No, that's not a typo--every week.

Most people considering our value quickly realize this isn't very practical in a typical church service. The closest service element I've seen in a typical church is an optional prayer and ministry time at the end of the service. But it remains optional and only for counseling prayer. It's good to do, but falls far short of the full expression of the variety of gifts God has given to his body.

And I understand why. Restriction makes sense. It really isn't practical given the structure and elements typical churches use for their gatherings.

But rather than restrict the expression of our value because the service structure makes it impractical, we decided to rewrite the structure of our services. We are called, every one of us, to serve as ministers and we want to practice that profound truth every week. And in our church, it's literally true that every member ministers. (More on how that works practically in other posts.)

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