As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.
- Acts 13:42-49
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”.
- Isaiah 49:6
“I have observed three prevailing desires people are seeking in the local church today. I don’t usually see this right away, but after a while it usually emerges.
“Many people are looking for the fastest, easiest way to get in and get out of church gatherings. They are looking for minimal work and time, but they want a feel-good factor. Convenience of drive time, shortness of the service, and ideal gathering time must be achieved to keep these folks on board. They are looking for the most succinct packaging available. When you are in the middle of a busy day and need to put food in your belly, you look for the fastest food option you can find. But convenience doesn’t lead to spiritual nourishment.
“Others are looking to drink deep of the church experience. This will likely drive them to look for the best possible programs for them and their families. The desires differ from person to person, but they view the church as a dispenser of religious goods, and they are looking for the finest goods around. This can look much deeper on the surface as they readily take notes during sermons and compliment church leadership on a recent event or sermon series.
“I hear stories of families who attended churches for years and suddenly stop attending. It’s as if they suddenly fell out of love with the style and programs of the church. The adage ‘whatever you win them with, you will have to keep them with’ should be a warning to us for those simply looking to consume what a church has to offer. At some level the desire to consume a church and its offerings is misunderstood ecclesiology, a confusion of what Jesus’ church is.
“There is a group of people in every church who gets it. Some have labeled this the 20 percent that does 80 percent of the work, but I call them the investors. While I have heard countless church leaders get angry at the 20/80 rule, I think this is going to be a reality in most places. Not everyone is hungry. Not everyone is ready to invest.
“This isn’t just in North America, but this is true in many discipling relationships across the globe. This was true with Jesus’s focus on pulling Peter, James, and John closer than the other disciples before the church was launched. They were the deepest investors among the disciples. Look for the hungry. Look for those who stay after events and clean up. Look for those who are doing things when they aren’t told to do them. Look for those who are applying God’s words to their lives. Look for those serving in the children’s ministry without being shamed into it. Look for those taking risks outside the walls of the church.
“When you spy investors in your church, you need to invest in them! We need to spend some of our best time equipping these leaders. I’m not saying that others are unspiritual or not worthy of our time, but I am saying we often have our eyes on the masses instead of on the few. Perhaps one in every five people in your congregation is hungry and ready to be equipped and coached into living out their genius. Work to create a funnel system for effectively using your time and focusing on the call to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry’ (Eph. 4:12).”
- Alan Briggs, Everyone’s a Genius
I understand the premise of Rev. Briggs’ book. The “About the Author” section tells of how Rev. Briggs is a church planter, someone who starts satellite churches and gets them going.
The whole idea of the book is that everyone can contribute to the growth of a church, even if you only run a valet service, since much of your church parking is far from the entrance. Everyone “could” do something. In this quote, albeit a lengthy one, he states that 20% do 80% of the work and you need to invest in these investors.
But he says, they get “it.” In many cases they do not get “it.” They are trying to earn their way into heaven. Maybe they came to their present church because they felt that no one paid attention to them and if they did, they would learn something. (I have met many who actually said that out loud.) That kind of arrogance and lofty ideas is not what Jesus was talking about when he said to be the master, we had to be the servant of all.
Maybe they were simply taught the requirement of “doing.” And nothing you ever say will disabuse them of that need to earn their way to heaven. And if you have a guy who thinks that unclogging toilets is his way to heaven, are you going to pull him aside and say that salvation by works is death? No way. Ummm. Maybe after he gets the toilet unclogged.
And that is part of the problem. These doers that do 80% of the work may or may not know Jesus, but in examining them, they may get their feelings hurt and run over to the less judgmental church across the street. Now that you hurt their feelings, who is going to do any of that 80%?!
Notice that Rev. Briggs gives the convenience folks and the consumers little chance of salvation. But he does not say to kick them out either. They are seeking what they seek, and maybe they can find Jesus along the way. But the doers are being praised for their doing, the praise might be yelling louder than the Holy Spirit saying that they lack life-giving faith. That should be part of the ministry of these people, a deep dive into their reasons and motivations to do what they do.
And as I just said, seekers will seek what they seek, but with the work of the Holy Spirit, they may just find Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.