What church would say of you, “We know you love us”?

The New Testament repeatedly indicates that anyone who does not love the church does not belong to the church, that is, the body of Christ. In other words, anyone who does not love the church that Jesus loves is not a follower of Christ.

One of the best known verses in this regard is 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.” The “brothers” here is an explicit reference to the church, to “brothers” (and sisters) in Christ, that is, those who comprise the church of Jesus Christ.

Similar is 2 John 1, “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth.” The “elect lady” here refers to the church, likely to a specific local congregation of believers in Christ.

We might classify the viewpoints of everyone toward the church in four ways. First would be those who would explicitly say they do not love the church. This would include atheists and many of those who are adherents of non-Christian religions.

Second would be those who are indifferent to the church. They might not speak against the church with any frequency or vehemence, but neither do they speak of loving the church. On occasion they may speak with appreciation or respect for the church, but generally they never think of the church unless some item in the news brings the church into their consciousness.

The third group would be those who say they love the church, but whose personal lives contradict their professed love. Many of these would proudly be on the membership roll of a local church. Some might even occasionally attend the worship gatherings of the church. But their priorities betray their “love.” The members of their church do not perceive they are loved any more than a wife feels loved by a neglectful husband.

The final group consists of those who both say they love the church and consistently demonstrate love toward the church in biblical ways. Like a husband who does not just respect women in general but loves the particular woman who is his wife, true Christians do not merely love the church universal, but a particular local expression of it. Their priorities prove their love; not in the maintenance of simply dutiful obligations, but in sincere demonstrations of love and service, actions born of a heartfelt love for the people of Jesus and their common aims.

What church would say of you, “We know you love us”?

Invent a Ministry

The Smiths work hard all week long. Michael’s job usually requires much more than a forty-hour weekly commitment. Susan never imagined such a busy life. And while their children aren’t over-involved, just a couple of school, sports, or music activities per week by each of them puts many extra miles on the family van almost every afternoon and evening.

The Smiths  spend most of the rest of their time trying to catch up with “life maintenance”—housework, shopping, paying bills, yard work, running errands, and all the rest. They almost always feel behind or overwhelmed.

And yet, like all those indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, they love what Christ loves—the church. They genuinely want to serve the Lord in and through His church. They have a good sense of the biblical priorities in life, but they struggle with what often seems too many priorities.

They don’t want to be mere religious consumers at church. Instead they want to minister, and do so in a way that glorifies God, strengthens the church, provides an example to their children, and edifies themselves. With everything else going on in their lives at this time, and with the limited options for ministry at their church, what should they do?

Some in this situation could find a solution to their problem just by talking with their pastor about it. He probably knows of opportunities for service invisible to many church members. Moreover, he’s certain to have ideas for ministries the church could begin if only the workers appeared.

For many people, a simple, creative solution is to invent a ministry. Perhaps the Lord has allowed the current circumstances just so the Smiths and people like them would look in new directions and begin some much-needed, but previously unconsidered ministry.

This is similar to what happened in Acts 6:1-7 when a situation developed that prompted the church’s leadership to invent a ministry to meet a growing need.

While most churches need workers in the existing ministries, the inability to fit well in one of them may be God’s prompting to start a new one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formally recognized ministry. It could be as simple as providing transportation for someone who’s blind, feeble, or without a car. Or it might be showing up extra early just to be available where needed.

If the idea of inventing a new ministry appeals to you, begin by asking the Lord to show you the answer to these two questions: “What are the greatest needs inside the church?” and “What are the church’s greatest needs for outreach?” By guiding your recollection, observation, or the comments of others, I’m confident He’ll lead you.

The Bible says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Why is this in the Scriptures? Because for so many reasons we do get tired while doing good. Like Jesus, let us never give up on His church or its work, no matter how tired or busy we become. Dream of new ways to use the gifts, skills, resources, and desires God has given you in imaginative and fulfilling ways in your church.



Taken from Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), pages 188-89.