I wonder which category you’d put yourself in?
The first group are the majority: they are the quiet ones. These are the people who faithfully come to church week-in and week-out, but rarely pass comment on what’s going on. Church leaders can sometimes be frustrated by their passivity and occasionally paranoid that they must be talking behind their backs, but most of the time they are simply relieved to assume that their silence signals that they’re ‘happy customers’.
By contrast, the second group are small but loud. They are the serial complainers. These are the self-appointed Ofsted inspectors of the church, who can’t help but find fault in every good endeavour. These are the people who, at the end of a service, will helpfully let the church leader know that the sound levels weren’t right (even though their own ears have already told them that) or remind them at the charity cake sale for the youth centre that ‘you really ought to be doing something for the over-60s ministry too’.
The final group are perhaps the rarest breed of all: the real initiative takers. These are the people who see something that needs doing and immediately start thinking about what they could offer to get it done. Rather than moan, they’d go ahead and organise that second fundraiser and get a friend from another church to come and lead some sound technology training. To them, every problem brings with it potential.
Which group did you put yourself in? I’d like to pat myself on the back and say I’m an initiative taker (wouldn’t we all?) but honestly more often than not I’m quite happily a quiet one. It’s so easy to become a consumer and focus on what the church gives me. But the church is not really an event to attend, rather it’s the people of God called to be His witnesses in the world. As Craig Groeschel put it: “The Church isn’t here to meet our needs. We are the Church and the Church exists to meet the need of the world: Jesus.”
So if that’s the big picture, then we are in serious need of some more initiative takers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great young leaders coming through ordination training at the moment (*waves to friends*) but if it’s all down to them, we’re not going to get very far. There are already too many worn-out clergy out there who have exhausted themselves by trying to be God’s answer to every need in their community. A church leadership team is not supposed to do everything, but “to equip the people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12).
And these ‘works of service’ don’t always have to happen between the church’s four walls. We are the Church whether we’re gathered to debate workplace ethics over a pint in a pub, or enjoying brunch in a café as we introduce a non-believer to our Christian friends. It doesn’t just have to be centralised programmes facilitated by people wearing t-shirts with a church logo on. Church is way more organic than that. What are you energised to see happen?