“You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” –James 2:18
Never are we told in the Bible that we make a profession of faith in Christ and then go on our merry way doing whatever we feel like doing and leaving Christian service to others. Faith is not a checklist of right beliefs to sign-off on as if it was nothing more than some fire insurance policy against hell. The reality is that the knowledge of salvation and the redemptive events of Jesus mean nothing unless we put that knowledge into practice. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1).
Don’t try and say, “I’m okay; you’re okay.”
There are always folks in the church who try to justify their lack of action and failure to help others. When people make statements like: “I’m not wired that way,” “That’s not my gift,” “We pay our pastor to do the ministry,” “This church is not meeting my needs,” “Let the next generation deal with change,” then they are essentially saying: “You can do the work while I show up and complain.” I hope that it goes without saying that this attitude and approach to the church is not good and betrays a failure of real faith. If anyone is in the habit of complaining about something, but does nothing to be part of the solution – that person needs to get an active faith because there is no room for armchair Christians in the New Testament who spout off about how it should have been done and how it ought to be done, but do nothing themselves. Each and every believer in Jesus Christ has been called to ministry. Every one of us has been gifted by God for ministry, and God expects us to use those gifts to build up the Body of Christ. The church suffers when we do not all participate in service with the abilities God has provided.
In fact, the role of the pastor-teacher in the New Testament is to train others in the work of ministry. You will not find anywhere in Scripture that only certain individuals serve and everyone else watches, like it is some kind of sporting event. Check out what the Scripture says: “To each one of us [Christians] grace [a spiritual gift] has been given as Christ apportioned it…. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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” (Ephesians 4:7-13). Wherever there is division and immaturity in the church, there you will find a group of people who are not using their God-given spiritual gifts and choose to complain instead of serve.
Don’t try and do it all yourself.
It is not the job of pastors, ministry leaders, missionaries, or any kind of leader in the church to do everything, but to invest in training disciples to do the job. Far too many pastors and leaders complain incessantly about the lack of service within their ministries but are doing nothing to put their efforts into training others for the work of ministry. A biblical culture is one that is continually offering discipleship and mentorship to believers and sends them out and off to do ministry work.
Therefore, there are two groups of people in the church that need to put action to their faith: members who only sit and soak but do nothing to jump into serving the Body of Christ; and, leaders who do not act to put primary energy into equipping the saints to do the work of ministry. When members do not serve, and leaders do not train, both groups hurl complaints toward the other and nothing ever gets done. It is high time that everyone in the church take responsibility for action in a biblical way so that the church’s unity, purity, and peace is upheld because of the maturity that occurs through active service. May it be so to the glory of Jesus Christ and the sake of the gospel.