by Brandon Baggett
Church involvement is a beautiful concept vividly illustrated all throughout the pages of the New Testament. As Paul frequently depicted, the church is the very body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:1-31), and it operates similar to a physical body. Our physical bodies are composed of various body parts, and each body part plays an integral function for the overall good, health, and productivity of the body. Similarly, the church is composed of many members who are connected through Christ. Each member of the church, the spiritual body, has a unique role they can provide to help the church and expedite the work of Christ on earth. Church involvement, therefore, is being an active, productive, and working member of the body of Christ.
However, the reality we often face is that many Christians are not involved in the church’s work or activities. While they may attend the regular meeting times, it is often a real struggle to get them to rise above merely occupying a place in the pew. They wander in and out of the church building only to be seen at the next scheduled assembly time. They are often viewed as spectators instead of servants in the local church. Regardless of a church’s size, virtually every local congregation suffers from this widespread phenomena of habitually uninvolved members.
So, why is it that many Christians are not involved in the church? Is it because they are just lazy, apathetic, and indifferent? We often assume this is the case for every Christian who is not as involved as we are. It’s easy for preachers, elders, and active church members to discount the lack of involvement of others on the basis that they are just uncommitted and irreligious. This is a dangerous attitude to have! In fact, it is just not true! Not all Christians are inactive for the same reasons. The more we seek to understand why a person is not involved, the better suited we will be to help get them involved.
Some are not involved because they are doubtful. They doubt their place and value in the local church. They feel useless. They feel like they don’t fit in. They are unsure of their talents or abilities. They are convinced that another could do a better job than them anyway. These Christians are not bad people, and they probably would be involved if they could overcome their doubts and low self-esteem. Oftentimes these brothers and sisters just need to be shown their potential, given a work, and be allowed to develop in their service. They need encouragement. They long for someone to believe in them.
Some are not involved because they are damaged. These Christians were likely more active in years gone by. However, at some point in time, they were hurt by their brethren. Maybe it was an unhealthy past church, an unkind word from the preacher, or a bad encounter with an elder. Now, they are less involved, because they simply feel vulnerable. If they get too involved, they could be hurt all over again. It’s safe to just sneak in and out without getting too connected. These brethren need to be shown love and encouragement. They need to know they are loved and needed. Remind them that though they may have served in an unhealthy situation before, the work still abounds.
Some are not involved because they are distracted. Time and again, this typically describes our brethren who are in the summer of life (ages 25-40). They are engrossed in the building process of life. They are right in the heart of building their life, family, and career. They are often so busy juggling their work life, recreation life, home life, social life, school life, and a whole host of other things, that the church sinks low on their list of priorities. They aren’t bad people, they are just busy and distracted. They need to be lovingly reminded that the Lord and His cause ought to be their life, not just a date on their calendar. Show them and teach them that Jesus needs to be front and center in these building block years.
Some are not involved because they are done. Or, at least they have convinced themselves that they are done. Generally speaking, this is often our brothers and sisters in the winter of their life (ages 60 and beyond). They are in their retirement years. They have worked hard for many years, and now they are enjoying their time by putting the finishing touches on their life. Unfortunately, they are convinced they have paid their dues in the church, and now it is time for the younger generation to take the torch of involvement. These brethren need to be reminded that the church still needs them. God has no retired soldiers, because there is no retirement plan in the church. Show them the church still needs their wisdom, knowledge, and abilities.
Some are not involved because they are deprived. There are some situations where people are not involved because we are not giving them the opportunity to be involved. In some churches, it is actually hard to get involved. Certain ones have been traditionally employed to do all the various works, classes, functions, and ministries in a church for years, and the church is perfectly content to let them continue like that. Any suggestion to involve others is met with resistance, lest those currently involved “get offended.” However, we need to remember that God designed the church for each member to have a role, function, and place in the body. Good leaders try to find a place of service for everyone. Rest assure, if a local church robs members who want to work of that opportunity, they will eventually leave and find a place where they can serve.
Some are not involved because they are downright lazy. They really are lazy. They are truly apathetic, unconcerned, lukewarm, and all other such adjectives. In life, they do as little as possible to get by. They never rise above mediocrity. Why, then, should we expect them to be exceptional in the church? They are perfectly content to warm a depression in the pew, spectate the services, and only come back at the next appointed meeting time. In reality, these brethren need to be rebuked and warned of their spiritual condition. The sad part is that these Christians often never change.
Every church has members who are not involved, but not every member is uninvolved for the same reasons. Not every Christian avoids serving in the body for the same reasons. The Gospel calls every Christian to be a minister in the mission field of service. The church is to be composed of people who have been blessed by the Lord’s mission who are now responsible for the Lord’s mission. Therefore, let us as preachers, church leaders, and concerned members do our part to understand the uninvolved and better help them to become a productive member of the body of Christ.