One Reason It’s Hard to Serve in Church

A small cross of twigsChurches generally struggle to get people to be involved in service, and to live out the truth that everyone is to be a minister and use their gifts to serve God. The common teaching is that this is to be done in a local congregation, within an organized church.

However, it’s almost always a struggle to get people involved, despite repeated encouragement. This is often chalked up to apathy, or distractions, or people not prioritizing kingdom work appropriately. However, maybe there’s more to it, and the reason has more to do with God leading people to serve in ways not on the church list, but people don’t know how to do that. Or perhaps they don’t have a clear leading, don’t feel like committing to something without one, and don’t know how to seek the Lord about service.

The reality is that God calls everyone to minister, to walk in good works, but kingdom service involves much more than just the activities in a congregation. There are many, many ways to serve God that do not involve conventional church, but most people only see the standard church-centered possibilities. On top of that, most teaching about serving God focuses on organized church-centered or missions-centered activities.

Instead, suppose a church were to encourage and equip people to serve wherever God wants, completely regardless of whether it involved the church or not. The key would be to open everyone’s eyes to the full range of opportunities that God provides, and to organize teachings and ministries that would be focused on getting people to recognize their calling and then walk it out wherever God led them. In doing so, the ministries would be giving — putting others’ need to minister before their own need to fulfill a ministry. This makes no worldly sense, but isn’t this exactly what we are taught as individuals? We are taught to give of ourselves to others, and trust God for what we need. “You can’t outgive God!” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).

This applies to groups of believers just as much as to individuals. Perhaps even more so because we trust organized ministries to lead efforts in some area, and leaders are to be equipping others to be ministers in their own right (Ephesians 4:11-12).

A church that gave in this manner would probably find it much easier to have people involved in service, because church involvement would be a simple, natural extension of what people are doing for God anyway, rather than a big step out of their comfort zones for the organization.

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