This year the Lutheran Church celebrates the 501 anniversary of the Reformation, and it is still a work in progress. The church of Martin Luther’s day was broken, they had lost their footing in the Word of God. Today’s church is still broken, and there are days when I think we too have lost our footing in the Word of God.
This is life in a fallen and broken world, but we dare not hide behind that simple truth. What I mean is, we must strive to pray for and work for the reformation of the church, to prepare her to be the spotless and perfect bride of Christ. We must stop “settling” for second best. I remember hearing people say “That’s close enough for church work.” I must admit there are days I too fall into that camp.
I must daily, as Luther urges, kill the old man and recognize the New Creation in Christ that rises in me. I must seek to not just do my job, but to do it to the very best of my ability, using all of the gifts and resources at my disposal. This also means that I must call my congregation to be there very best, to give to their vocation the best that they have to offer, to use their gifts for the kingdom to the best of their ability.
This leads me to a question? What is the best of my ability? How am I best using my time, my gifts and resources for the Kingdom?
First I have to determine what my gifts and resources are? What are those things in which I have been gifted by God to excel at, and bring glory to his name? Once I have determined those gifts and opportunities I need to do all that I can to free myself up to do those things.
Second I need to balance my gifts out to the responsibilities I have been given, as Husband, Father, Friend, and Pastor. How does my vocational calling fit with my gifts? For me, this has been a struggle in the past few years. There are things I need to do in my vocation as Pastor that are not in my gift area – Administration is one of those responsibilities outside of my gift area.
Writing, preaching, and teaching these are in my gift areas yet I often do not give them the time they deserve, I get caught up in things that I value, that I think are more important. For an example I have spent a great deal of time trying to give our church building a fresh new look, while this is important and I have involved others in the painting, I have spent way too much time, sorting, moving, decorating etc. My wise Bishop and my Wife both remind me “you can’t do everything.”
You might be asking yourself about now, what does your cleaning a closet have to do with the reformation of the church. A great deal actually, the church is not an individual it is a group, a “body” of believers who gather together around a common mission and vision. The reformation of the church needs to be a part of all of our lives, we must strive to keep the church a living, and breathing Bride of Christ. This can only happen when all the “parts” of the body of functioning to their best.
I must spend more time doing those things that equip the church to be the church if that is spending more time writing and teaching so be it. Always keeping in mind that I am doing this work not for my own glory or acclaim but for the Kingdom of God. It might mean more time in administration or finding someone who can be that administrator. It also means I must call the members of my congregation to a higher level of commitment and service, I must help them discover their gifts, then equip and train them to use their gifts for the growth of the church.
So what can you do to be a part of the reformation of the church today? Think about it, pray about it and talk with your Pastor about using your gifts, not to bring honor to you, but to bring honor to Christ and for the Glory of His Bride! Your Pastor can thank me later!
One final word of encouragement, our “ideas” of how we can use our gifts must always fit with the mission and vision of the local congregation, not just our own agenda, trust me I struggle with this along with you.
So call your pastor, trust me it will make his day!