Hey, Calvary Fremont –
Consumers want to be blessed. Disciples want to be obedient. Consumers want to be served. Disciples want to serve.
Consumers ask, “How will this benefit me?” Disciples ask, “How can I benefit others?” Consumers have rights whereas Disciples have responsibilities. Consumers have options whereas Disciples have obligations.
Yesterday, we looked at the Church Prayer Meeting. Today, let’s apply this to serving in the Children’s Ministry. In a church full of Disciples, the Children’s Ministry is fully staffed. In a church full of Consumers, the Children’s Ministry Director is often reduced to sanctified begging. Everyone makes a beeline for the door when they see the Children’s Ministry Director coming their way. “Oh no, here she comes. What creative excuse can I give if she asks me to serve?” “Yikes, he’s looking right at me. I hope he’s not trying to think of some creative way to get me to serve.” Why do Consumers not want to serve in Children’s Ministry? Because there’s nothing to consume. It’s not sexy and exciting. It requires preparation and sacrifice. And if there were ever two words that don’t go together, it’s ‘Consumer’ and ‘sacrifice.’
I think the hardest ministry in the church is the Children’s Ministry Director. There are so many moving parts to juggle each week and so many people to oversee and manage. I’ve never thought to ask (and maybe I will), but I would think that the greatest stress that a Children’s Ministry Director has is trying to recruit people who don’t want to be recruited. Here’s what the CM Director often hears –
“Teaching children isn’t my spiritual gift,” says the Consumer Christian.
Teaching children is not one of the spiritual gifts. You don’t have to be spiritually gifted (whatever that means in this context) to serve in the Children’s Ministry. I even looked it up in the Greek – it’s not there.
“I’m not called to teach children,” says the Consumer Christian.
But you are called to be a Servant. Servants serve wherever they’re needed.
“I don’t feel led to serve in Children’s Ministry,” says the Consumer Christian.
This is legitimate when a Disciple feels led to serve elsewhere.
This is illegitimate when a Consumer seeks to cloak their indifference in spiritual lingo.
“I don’t know enough Bible to teach Children’s Ministry,” says the Consumer Christian.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12 The author of Hebrews is addressing himself to carnal believers which would be today’s Consumer Christians.
“I’m too busy,” says the Consumer Christian.
- Maybe. Though it’s helpful to know that most CM curriculum is so effectively laid out that it makes prep time quite simple.
What the Consumer Christian often means when they say these things:
“I don’t want to tie up my weekends in case I have something else I want to do.”
“Children’s Ministry is too time-consuming with all the preparation and commitment.”
“I don’t get anything out of Children’s Ministry. It doesn’t do anything for me.”
“I just don’t want to. Go away and leave me alone.”
I know I run the risk of sounding like a judgmental twit. I get it –there are legitimate reasons why not everyone is falling over themselves to serve in the Children’s Ministry. But is it wrong for a pastor to want a church full of Disciples who are eager to serve – not just in CM, but in all phases of church life and witness? Am I living in la-la-land to want believers who have taken up their cross and are following Jesus in self-denial and who don’t have to be wrestled to the ground to get them to serve Jesus? I don’t want to have to shame or guilt Consumers into serving or promise them the moon.
Consumers become Servants by becoming Disciples. It’s not that Consumers never serve – but they only serve when there is no sacrifice involved. It’s like Jesus criticizing the rich when they give that which costs them nothing. Consumers serve when convenient – Disciples serve whenever. Are you a Consumer or a Disciple? How can you tell? Measure your service.
“But Pastor Tim, isn’t it rewarding to serve in Children’s Ministry or other ministries?” Yes, it’s deeply rewarding – but a Disciple’s motive isn’t the reward, a Disciple’s motivation is to please and glorify the Lord. A Disciple’s reward is a good conscience, deep joy, people who are helped, enriching relationships, growing wisdom, and shared love. The reward is so much greater than the sacrifice.
If you are a pastor and reading this, stop speaking to the congregation you serve as if they are Consumers and not Disciples of the Living God. A convert who doesn’t take up his cross and follow Jesus is a Consumer. A convert who takes up his cross and follows Jesus is a Disciple. Let’s labor to turn Consumers into Disciples.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim