All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Scripture above is familiar to most of us, especially those of us who are leaders in the Body of Christ. We have spent years and even decades studying the Word of God so that we can be thoroughly equipped to teach, preach, counsel, and lead people in the ways of the Lord. And that is the way it should be – the Word is authoritative and worthy of our study – and it will indeed shine light upon our paths and judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.
I believe that. Do you? If you do, you have likely shined the light of the Word upon your personal life and you have let the light of the Word guide you along paths of righteousness and govern your behavior. And as you have done so, you have likely received healing and help in your personal life; you have begun to experience the abundant life of unspeakable joy and abiding peace that Jesus offers. I praise God for the transformation I have seen in my life and in the lives of other believers as we take His word and apply its truths to our personal lives.
So why then, I keep asking myself, has it taken so many years for me and countless other Christian leaders to understand that the Word not only has authority in our personal lives, but also in our corporate life as the Body of Christ? Why have we spent decades teaching others to apply the Word to their personal lives without thinking much about applying the Word to our church life? Why have we just "done church" the way everyone else does it without applying God's Word to what we are doing?
Sure, we talk about the church being the Body of Christ, but do we really make room for every member to exercise their gifts and function in the ways for which they were designed by God? Do we structure our meetings and services so that everyone has a chance to share and grow in their gifts? Or do we simply put on Sunday morning performances that allow only a select few to share their God-given gifts and talents?
Most of us, having grown up in our modern church models, assume that one senior pastor should be the one to do all the teaching, preaching, and leading. Week after week we who are “pastors” do it all. We preach, we teach, we counsel, we comfort, we do it all. We are the elite, the ones called by God to minister to others. We are living sacrifices, working 60 hours a week for part-time pay. We serve the Lord tirelessly so that others don’t have to do anything except show up on Sunday mornings and drop some money in the offering basket.
And the result of all this effort and sacrifice? We have crippled the Body of Christ, created babes in Christ who can’t fend for themselves, and failed to take care of ourselves and our families. We have taken on burdens that weren’t ours to bear and fashioned our ministries and churches after the wisdom of man rather than the revealed will of God in the New Testament.
So week after week we go through the motions, doing ministry the same way we have always done it. We do church the way we were taught, in the tradition in which we were brought up, without ever thinking about applying the light of God's Word to what we are doing. It is time that we take a step back and think about how we do church and compare that to how the New Testament describes church. As we do that, as we begin to apply the light of God’s Word to how we do church, it will change everything – how we see the church, how we organize and lead our churches, what we do on Sunday mornings or in our small groups – it will change everything!