Somebody asked me recently, “What can I do to serve the church?” I know others are also wondering what roles they can fill in the church. This is a wonderful desire, and such an encouraging thing for a pastor to hear. I am thankful that there is a conviction that the ministry of the church is not solely a job for the pastors, but for all the members of the church.
When I hear this question, my natural response is to think of formal roles in the church: we need more ROOTSKids volunteers, we could use more people on the cleaning and greeting rotation, “Can you lead worship?!” But while these are important, in reality they are a small fraction of the ministry that goes on in a healthy church. If the only ministry we could point to were the formal roles and positions in the church, we probably would not be a very healthy church.
Wondering how you can serve the church? Here are some ways that do not require any training or approval, but are incredibly valuable:
- Show up early to the Sunday gathering and/or stick around afterwards, seeking out people to talk to.
- Ask to get together with an individual or family in the church. All of the “one anothers” that the church is called to practice begin with simply getting to know one another.
- Seek to better understand our convictions and practices as a church. Pick up a book on expository preaching, discipleship through the local church, evangelism, church membership, Reformed Theology, eldership. The colorful 9Marks books on the top shelf of our bookshelf are a great place to begin.
- Ask a fellow church member if they’d like to meet regularly for mutual discipleship. Read a book together, discuss the sermon, pray for one another.
- Prayerfully seek out opportunities to share the gospel with those in your life (or strangers!), perhaps inviting them to church. Some questions to ask: Do you attend church? What do you think of Jesus? What’s your church background? What is your understanding of “the gospel”?
- Join the men’s or women’s studies, a community group, and/or Sunday School. Not to check something off a list, not simply because you feel you ought to, but to minister to, and be ministered by, your brothers and sisters in Christ.
- “Confess your sins to one another.” Okay, so I literally took this straight from the Bible. But seriously, this is something we are called to do. And it is one way we minister to one another: When I confess my sins to you, I am acknowledging my need for Jesus, and asking you to help lead me to Jesus. And you, in turn, have the opportunity to minister the grace of Jesus to me.
- Consider those who are suffering in the church. Check in on those who are going through trials of various kinds.
- Let the church minister to you in your sin and suffering. This is huge. It’s one thing to be willing to walk with others through sin and suffering. It’s another (and typically harder for us) to invite others to walk with us through our own sin and suffering.
- Be diligent to honor the Lord in your private and home life. Who you are when no one is looking will bleed into who you are in the gathered church.
- If you fit the biblical qualifications, consider if you have a desire and willingness to be a pastor/elder. Paul says, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). Sure, you can desire this for wrong reasons. But there are good reasons to desire to lead and shepherd God’s church in the office of pastor/elder.