Dear Church Family,
Last week we thought about church membership using the metaphor of a team. This week we’ll look at church membership using the metaphor of a company. I am not suggesting the church is a business any more than I am suggesting it is a football team. However, as an organization, I hope the commonalities will help us better understand who we are; namely, the body of Christ.
When people are hired by a company, a mutually-beneficial relationship is formed. A service is rendered for the company. Compensation is given to the worker. But one of the most overlooked benefits of the corporation-employee relationship is accountability.
If a company wants to last over the long haul, it will only hire people for jobs it needs to be performed. That means within a company like this, each employee is needed and necessary. They have been hired to add value in some way or another to the organization overall. Because of this, the company will only hire people who fit the right qualifications and then will train those it hires to perform their jobs in the right way. The company is responsible for its employees.
On the other hand, the employee is also responsible or accountable to the company. This accountability can be a profoundly helpful way of motivating us, even to the point of getting us out of bed in the morning. Employees find purpose and meaning in their work and also their company. They might choose to make less money in this field in the name of making a difference or loyalty.
With all that being said, what would happen if an employee stopped showing up for work? What would happen if the company stopped compensating its employees? What would happen if an employee was unwilling do his or her job? What would happen if the company was unwilling to train its employees to do their jobs? What would happen if employees were compensated by the company whether they did their jobs or not? What would happen if employees did their jobs whether they were compensated by the company or not?
If things continued on this way, I think we would all agree on our answers to each of those questions. When there is a permanent breakdown on either side or on both sides of the company-employee relationship, it fails.
Now, let’s turn to apply this to the local church. Each member matters for the health of the whole body. Each of us has a job for which we have been uniquely equipped. All of us are called to fulfill the “one anothers” we see throughout the New Testament. All of us are called to take up the mission Christ has given us for the world. All of us are meant to live in such a way so as to give proof of the Gospel’s transformative power in our lives. But all of us are called to do these things in the uniqueness of the life He has entrusted to us.
If we stop showing up for work or if we’re doing our job in the wrong way, it negatively impacts the whole church. There is the same amount of work to be done, but fewer hands to complete it—and less familiar hands to that particular task. Furthermore, the purpose and significance enjoyed by that worker is forfeited when he or she abandons the work. That employee wouldn’t expect to be compensated and would expect to be let go. But if the company continued to compensate this employee as if the same job was being performed, it would signal to the employee he or she didn’t really matter after all. This would also take away one of the primary motivations for the employee showing up for work—the sting of no paycheck.
Brothers and sisters, more than any other work, kingdom work is of the greatest importance. And kingdom work is the work of the local church. We have each been given a job, a role to play, a purpose to fulfill. The work of ministry is shared by every member. This is a task we can give our lives to because unlike any company this world has ever known, God is worth our sole devotion. What blessing, what reward, what eternal compensation is offered to us who will commit our lives to doing His work in the world! May we labor till He comes in a way that pleases Him.