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Spectator vs. Ministry: Which One Results in Growth?

I enjoy sports, but I am a football fanatic.

There are sports fans and then there are sports fans! The first group is made up of those who buy a ticket, go to the game, watch the action, and cheer when their team makes a good play. After the game, they go home and go to work the next day.

The second group buys season tickets, goes to the game three hours early, cooks hotdogs on a tailgate grill, buys a hat, jersey, foam finger, and possibly paints themselves team colors to match the jersey. They cheer in the stands until the final play and, if their team wins, cannot wait to see the highlights and commentary on SportsCenter.

But even with all of that, they are not players. They remain fans.

There is No Such Thing as Spectator Members in the Church

Dr. Thom Rainer writes of this phenomenon: “I am a fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Notice I did not say I am a member of the Crimson Tide – there’s a difference. I don’t go to spring practices and work out with the team. I don’t study game films or discuss plays with the coaches. On game day, I don’t get on the field and help the team move the ball across the goal line. That’s not my job. I’m a fan – a spectator.”1

Spectator members are one of the biggest problems in churches today. Members are to minister, and all members are to minister. The Bible knows nothing of spectator church members. In order to move beyond spectator Christianity, it is important for every member to know his or her role in the church and do it.

Ministry is the Responsibility of Each Christ-Follower

The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that God had established leaders in the church. Among these leaders are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. He also established why these leaders had been given: “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”2 No one is being trained to look around; everyone is being trained to minister.

Ministry is the responsibility of every believer. A very significant part of ministry is that we are connected by the growth that takes place. Ministry is rarely, if ever, for the benefit of an individual. In fact, as Paul makes clear, the work of ministry leads to the building of the body of Christ. That body includes many members.

Paul continues with the extent of such ministry in verse 13, “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Notice we are “growing into a mature man.” Ministry results in building, which results in unity as a result of growth.

Ministry Unifies, Connects, and Grows

Ministry unifies, connects, and grows the church. Ministry is a unifier and a connector. If you are a member of a church, pray for God to open a door of ministry opportunity for you. Talk to someone in leadership and ask them where your gifts, talents, and passions can best be used. You will be connected to other members of the body. You will grow, so will those you minister with, and God will be glorified.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life

1- Bible Studies for Life, Connected, Dr. Thom Rainer
2- Ephesians 4:12 (HCSB)

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Southern Baptists: Are We Desperate Yet?

DesperationI was conversing last week with one of America’s pastors. This specific man holds a special place in the history of our Southern Baptist Convention. As we discussed our past, present, and future, we began to talk about desperation. When we are desperate, we sense the need is great and we respond with extreme urgency.

Are We Desperate Yet?

When we are honest with ourselves, we will agree the need among us is great. We will face our reality with courage and with hope. We will not run away from our challenges or become spiritual spinmeisters. We will stand united and face the future together with hope.

Desperation is determined by understanding the condition around you. While I have never been more encouraged about many things in our Southern Baptist Convention, the following realities we must face together as a convention of churches:

  • Declining membership
  • Declining attendance
  • Worst year of baptisms in 62 years
  • Instability of our financial future
  • Cross generational disengagement from our Annual Meeting
  • Unhealthy condition of many of our established churches
  • Increasing lostness of America and the entire world
  • Continuing slide of our culture into immorality
  • Rising of global crises
  • Lack of passion for spiritual revival, spiritual awakening, and the Great Commission

We cannot operate in a make-believe culture. The things listed are just some of our challenges, and certainly not a complete list. They may appear to be brutal, but each one is real and when viewed together, they are a massive challenge.

We must respond urgently and with great conviction. Based upon the above list, our present condition is not sustainable and our future trajectory is not encouraging. While my burden for our convention is heavy and my task as President at this time in history is overwhelming, my hope for our future is abounding.

Why is my hope for our future abounding? I believe, with all of my heart, that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are moving toward a state of desperation. We are desperate for God to step in and miraculously and missionally do a great work in us personally, in our churches collectively, and with our convention.

Our Decision Time is Now

The time is now for us to face our challenges, stand together, and courageously embrace our future together. God has all of us here at this time in history to answer the call.

The times are desperate, but we need to be even more desperate than our times. We need to be desperate for:

  • God to do a fresh work in us personally
  • God to bring spiritual revival to His church
  • God to sovereignly give us the next Great Awakening
  • God to empower us to accelerate our pace of completing the Great Commission

You see friends, when we are so desperate for God to have His rightful place in our lives, His church, and His Kingdom, we will do all we can to answer His call in the times in which we live.

The time is now for us to make difficult decisions that will move us toward the greatest days in our history and our future. Yes, we will have to work through these challenges patiently, but we can do it, and I am convinced we will.

Only God knows what the Southern Baptist Convention will look like in the future. Only God knows how many churches we will have, how many missionaries we will have, and how effectively we will do our work together. Since He alone is Sovereign, we trust Him.

Our Trust is in Him Alone

Because our trust is in Him alone, here are some things I believe we can and should do together now. We can:

  • Agree that God alone is our answer
  • Agree to unite together visibly
  • Agree to pray together extraordinarily
  • Agree to work together through our challenges
  • Agree to strategically address and turn around many of these things

I do not know all Southern Baptists, but I do know many of you. I have yet to meet anyone that wants any of the present negative conditions to continue on our watch. I can assure you that I do not.

Therefore, as we trust in the Lord and pray extraordinarily for the next great move of God in our nation and world, we need to work strategically to address each of these situations. We need to do so with desperate hearts and urgent actions. Let’s do it now, and let’s do it together.

I Learned Many Years Ago

I learned many years ago that God will meet us at the point of our desperation. Therefore, may our spiritual desperation rise even higher than the desperate times in which we live. Let’s face our future courageously with boldness and hope. I believe we are growing more desperate than ever to see God work among us and through us like never before. We will stand united and face the future together with hope.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd


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