In Mark 12:28–34, Jesus points out the greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Here are some simple thoughts on how to give all of one’s heart, soul, and strength as it concerns the fellowship and ministry of a church, the people of God, a group of people who should be closer as “neighbors” than others (cf. Gal 6:9–10).
Those with a strong commitment to a church’s fellowship and ministry readily offer excuses to those outside the church in order to fellowship with the church and carry out its essential ministries. They gladly do so because their excuses are rare and valid. On the other hand, those with a lack of commitment readily offer excuses to avoid giving their time to assemble with the church and serve. Generally speaking, they readily offer valid excuses when an excuse is indeed valid but are otherwise typically silent. The difference between these two groups of people is that one treats fellowship and ministry as a convenience, and the other treats them as a commitment. (And it should be noted that these groups are two ends on a spectrum of commitment.)
For a small church like my own that has three regular meeting times each week, necessary maintenance for our property, and occasional events, it’s pretty easy to assess one’s degree of commitment over time. One shows either a general commitment to attending and serving or not. A strong commitment is shown by regular attendance and ministry, whether the ministry is noticed or not. Other church scenarios may have different dynamics, but the above comments more or less still apply.
A lack of commitment takes place when individuals fail to carry out tasks that they have agreed to do. Voluntary ministry does not mean one can simply abandon an agreed responsibility with no notice and let someone more faithful pick up the slack. Saying nothing is a fantastic way to show a lack of care for a given matter.
A lack of commitment also takes place when individuals do not take initiative to help with a church’s most basic needs, i.e., when one sees something that needs to be done but does nothing to address the matter. If someone has to be asked to do what is necessary, it is highly unlikely that this person is trustworthy for having the privilege of serving in some greater way.
So who is responsible for what? In general, for those over fifty, difficult labor is not expected (cf. Num 8:25). For those over sixty, even the regular things of life may become difficult (cf. 1 Tim 5:9). Conversely, for those who are younger or have less domestic concerns (single, no kids, etc.), they typically have the energy and time to serve and better tend to the church’s needs (cf. 1 Cor 7:25–35). Work requirements, health problems, the trials of life, etc., obviously allow for exceptions for what a church otherwise expects as faithful attendance and ministry. In such scenarios, the uncommitted are grateful for an excuse, and the faithful attempt to fellowship and serve in spite of their difficulties.
As it applies to leadership, in my personal judgment, those whose attendance and ministry is not what a church would wish should not be officers in a church. If someone cannot do the regular things of a church, whether the reason be good or bad, why would the church ask such a person to do more than what they already cannot do?
Every Christian should give God all of his heart, soul, and strength. Regularly being with God’s people and doing God’s work are general indicators of whether someone is giving his all or not. And for those who give their all, it is fairly obvious to see who is gifted to lead the others as a faithful example or even an officer in the church (cf. 1 Tim 3:6, 10, 13).