A few weeks ago a few of us did a mini-blog hop titled, From Mommy Guilt to Mommy Grace. One friend shared how she gave up going to Bible Study, and the result of that post prompted a conversation all to itself:
What about serving the local church?
Good question, which led me to thoughts on guilt and serving in the local church.
A few years ago, I was part of a church that focused very heavily on serving, serving, serving, serving the local church. A little after that, I was part of a church focused on serving and being a part of the community with a heavy focus on the poor and needy (in body, not just spirit). Now I’m a part of a church that teaches on figuring out God’s purpose for your life and then jumping in with both feet and serving diligently in that area, never serving out of obligation. All three churches have totally different approaches to what it looks like to “serve your local church.” And if I’m honest, I think they all, in part, have it right.
For the longest, I felt guilty for not “serving the children’s ministry” because I had a kid. But then I realized, I don’t even put my kid in children’s ministry! And now that I do, I don’t feel called or convicted to serve my church in the children’s ministry, nor have they asked me to.
When there was a need for our children’s ministry, I still did not step up because I did not feel God’s call (*gasp*). Instead, I waited upon Him to show me His perfect will. Because every need is not your calling. Instead, my heart is in the young families ministry seeking to help lead us into deeper, more intentional relationships with one another. My heart and mission is in making better parents, better families. That’s my calling.
I think “serving the local church” has become an idol in our culture (especially in the area of children’s ministry) that we fail to remember we have all been given various gifts and are called to use them in varying ways (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7). And sometimes, for a season, that calling only includes our immediate family (Titus 2, Proverbs 31).
My friend was attacked by worn out church servants for not serving her church in the children’s ministry, but these faithful servants didn’t have a clue what this poor mama was (and is) going through right now. I agree, motherhood is not an excuse to stop serving and just because it’s hard is not an excuse to stop reaching out. But motherhood is a reason to breathe grace in and breathe grace out because even though it’s hard it’s one of the most rewarding jobs and greatest privileges (that needs a whole lot of encouragement).
I believe a mom must grow in managing her brood while finding time to reach out beyond her family (Proverbs 31). For some that may be slower than the local church would like, but boy, I’m sure glad God is a patient God who loves me enough to never leave me in my present state. Furthermore, I believe if there is a true need in a church, God will provide for the need just as He’s been so faithful to do for all eternity.
As a community of believers (who all want what is best for our churches), we can do our part by coming together in love and trusting His Spirit to move right on time, every time. Yes, we are called to hold one another accountable (in the right context), but we’re to do this with gentleness and humility (Galatians 6:1-2) … with love which covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
So the next time we’re tempted to express frustrations at the lack of servants in our church …
- Why not consider that God has something to teach to our sister in Christ and maybe we can be a conduit of grace and help for her to change?
- Why not pray that the Holy Spirit would convict her and entrust her into her Father’s loving arms instead of condemning and pouring guilt out in abundance?
- Why not come alongside this sister in Christ, bearing her burdens together in love (not just in prayer)?
Don’t call her into account based on your own convictions (Romans 14), but based on God’s Word and His formula for calling into account (Matthew 7:1-6, 7:12-14, 18:15-20, Galatians 6:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, 2 Timothy 4:2).
I know this is a touchy subject, but you read Intentional By Grace because you are women who want to make it impossible to not think about God wherever you go. Therefore, I don’t want us to be women who say we’ll pray and then do nothing else. I don’t want us looking around at others in our church comparing and judging in our hearts. I want us to call ourselves into account, searching our hearts, and then seek to bear the burdens of one another. I want revival and it starts with you…with me. It starts with Christians learning to love one another well. We gather enough criticism and dirty looks from those who don’t know the Lord. We don’t need it in our churches too. My dear friends, let us not be idol makers of serving the local church that we quench the Spirit of God at work in each individual. Let us be women who make it impossible to not think about God wherever we go and in whatever we do.