Not like calling equity on the phone, although that’s a funny thought. Instead, I mean to suggest that there exists a universal evenhandedness or equality of value in every call of God to every person. Let me back up…
I am the Volunteer Pastor for the Renovatus community here in Charlotte NC. It is a high honor and privilege to minister to and with this particular group of God’s children. To oversimplify, my role in our church is to create an open door and path to serving God. I am tasked with the job of supporting our Lead Pastor’s initiative to get everybody’s hands dirty with the good work of the Kingdom (you have probably heard of our Pastor, Jonathan Martin? I think he has a blog). Anyway, we take seriously the idea that the Church is the very real Body of Christ in this world, and therefore we must live that way. We are working to build a culture among this people that makes us and those around us fully aware that we have a job to do. We must become witnesses to the good news in word and deed. We should often let our deeds speak for themselves. Considering the mistakes of the church in North America and our lack of confession, we must be willing to put our words aside and be a people of action if we ever hope to be listened to again.
So, what should we be doing? Well, this is a question with two answers.
First, we all have the same general calling as followers of Christ. It is a universal calling and one easily articulated by anyone who is following. But, the second way to answer the question of what to do with ourselves, is found when we seek God’s more specific will for our particular Body in our particular context. And this is the beautiful part with limitless possibilities because God is a constant creator working in the garden of our world pulling up weeds and planting fruit trees! This can ‘range’ from ministry in the third world to being a greeter at our churches weekend services.
I am guessing that if you grew up around the church, you are nodding your head right now. You have seen first hand the divisions that are still so prevalent between clergy and laity. You are fully aware that we still call people like me a ‘minister’, while everyone else is called a ‘member’, ‘attendee’ or ‘churchgoer’. We still allow the categorization of those who ‘work for the church’ and the ‘consumers’ that just come and receive at, as our Pastor calls it, the buffet of spiritual gluttony. Leaders are the most guilty of perpetuating this habit by allowing the work of the church to bottle neck with us as we claim expert status. Of course all are to blame for allowing our call from God to action to sit on the shelf and gather dust like so many other things of importance. Where did I leave my Bible anyway?
“But, didn’t you claim that all callings are held equal?” you might ask. Am I really trying to say that in the eyes of God, the calling of MLK or Bonhoeffer is on par with the calling of the lady who makes coffee at my church or the guys who pass the offering plate back and forth? That the calling of the nursery worker changing diapers is as important as Pastor Jonathan’s call to preach the Word? Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to say (and I am echoing what Pastor has already preached himself)!
Right here is where the rubber meets the road for me as a pastor with Renovatus. The aforementioned consumerism in our churches is simply not Christian at all. Jesus made it very clear that we are to do what He did and with the empowerment of His Spirit; He expects us to do even greater things than He accomplished! But, the greatness of a calling can only be judged by the One who does the calling. There is simply faithfulness or unfaithfulness. It is our system of value imposed on God’s people that make faithful servants begin to feel inadequate and insecure. If God calls you to do something, even something that seems small to you and everyone around you, do it and never look back. God judges those faithful in the ‘small things’ to be great in His Kingdom!
This is obviously then not a call to small-mindedness or apathy, but a call to faithfulness leaving behind the systems and values that bind the imaginations and hands of God’s children everywhere. What do I encourage as a leader? I just want you to get in the game somewhere! I trust the Spirit to guide you as you grow in Christ. The Spirit will lead us through seasonal callings and life long callings, simple or complex.
So, I as a leader am charged with helping my Pastor change the culture we find ourselves in for those that call Jesus their master. I have to keep finding ways to help our people unlearn the hierarchical structures of the world which have too often been encouraged instead of challenged in the church. I have tried to create a ‘boot camp’ for learning to serve God in our church through the way I have organized our Guest Services Teams. None of the jobs are rocket science, there is only faithfulness and unfaithfulness.
I have started with the most simple and accessible jobs to get people in our Body ministering. This is not to limit them, but to teach how important simple things are to God’s heart and to start many down the path of service that is often inaccessible in the church. I pass or fail as a leader based on how well I create opportunities for our people to co-labor with Jesus. Every Greeter that shakes your hand is showing you the love of God. Every Care-taking Team member is part of the reconciliation of the world when they clean a toilet for others to use. You are looking at the face of Jesus when a parking lot attendant from the Safety Team waves you into the lot. Really!
And some people wonder why I take such ‘little’ things so seriously…
Gabe Donaldson is Volunteer Pastor at Renovatus: A Church for People Under Renovation.