Dear Church Family,

Are we spectators or starters? We’re about a month into the college football season and depending on your team, you may be looking forward to the beginning of January or the end of next August. If you’re in need of a new team, I just checked the current rankings as I am writing this and I would like to very humbly point out that three of the top five teams happen to be in the SEC…But regardless of whether or not you’ve watched every minute of every game or if you’ve only watched a few minutes of some games (like me), we’ve seen both the people in the stands and the people on the field. As far as playing the game goes, one group is passive and the other is active.

Spectators are passive. Sure, their presence is noticed and their voices are heard. They may be wearing the same jerseys as the team on the field. They may have “watched film” by tuning into their opponents’ games ahead of time and know all the plays. They are at the same place, at the same time hoping their team will win. But at the end of the day, they don’t catch the ball. They don’t make the tackles. Even if they ran onto the field, their efforts wouldn’t contribute anything to their team’s success. In fact, the spectator who doesn’t cheer, wears regular clothes, doesn’t really care who wins, and knows nothing about football, is every bit as must a spectator as another one on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Starters are active. If they don’t show up, they lose. If they don’t compete according to the rules, they’re disqualified. If they don’t practice, it will show. If they don’t know their positions and their team’s plays, they’ll get exploited by the other team. Because of that, their team, their coach, their school, and their fans all expect them to do what they are supposed to do as players. And they’re held accountable for it.

Now, let’s compare this to church membership. As a member of this church, do you think of yourself as a spectator or a starter? Instinctively, we all know we are called to be starters and not merely spectators, but what do our lives say we actually believe? From the Bible’s perspective, only those outside the church are spectators and all church members are starters. So, if we are members, the real question is not if we are starters or spectators, but are we acting like starters or spectators.

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 says, “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” This means every single member of our church has a role or position to play. We are to have the same care for each member of our body as we do for every member of our body because God has designed the local church to need each and every member.

Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” This means in order for us to be healthy and mature as a church, we must have a firm understanding of the necessary and vital role God has uniquely given to each member of this body. When one role or position breaks down within the church, the church stops functioning as it should. If a starter becomes a spectator, the whole team suffers.

Brothers and sisters, as individual members of this body, each and every one of us matters. It matters whether or not we gather together. It matters whether or not we serve one another. It matters whether or not we love one another. It matters whether or not we are seeking the Lord personally. It matters whether or not we contribute. It matters whether or not we are seeking to do what God has called us to do, equipped us to do, and we’ve committed to do in our church covenant. It matters for all of us. Member, you matter to this church. Church, you matter to every member. May we each understand the importance of the role entrusted to each of us and may our lives prove that we embrace that assignment.