On my "day off" today I will prepare a funeral sermon. This is the 8th death I've dealt with in four weeks. From suicide to an accident victim, senior adults to young people, expected and tragically sudden, it has been a busy and stressful time.
However, I am grateful to serve the Lord and hurting people. I am also grateful for a congregation that realizes I cannot do it all, nor does God expect me to. One of the greatest challenges I face as I lead our church is to continually equip members to serve as God has called them to. We cannot be the congregation God expects us to be for each other or for our community if we do not take personal responsibility for ministry. We will limit the potential of what God can do in our church if we expect a pastor or a handful of staff members to do all of the ministry. We will stunt our growth and harm our fellowship if we get mad when the pastor cannot give us the individual attention that we expect. And we will hurt our own spiritual growth by not stepping out to serve.
So if a Deacon shows up at your hospital to visit you, then I have visited you. They have been equipped by me, and they represent me and the congregation. If your life group leader ministers to you, then I have ministered to you. If our staff counsels you, then I have counseled you. If a fellow church member gives you a call to see how you are doing, then I have called you. If a fellow member visits our nursing homes or shut-ins, then I have visited.
Most of all, when someone ministers to another person they represent someone far higher and greater than me. They represent the Lord Jesus Christ. It is his church after all.
So I want to thank the hundreds of members who actively minister to others in official and unofficial capacities. You truly are a reflection of the body of Christ.
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)