Do you remember getting home late from a trip with little kids? Christy and I have pulled in our driveway many times late at night with children asleep in the backseat. Even if they don’t weigh much, picking them up sound asleep and carrying them to their beds can be a big chore with all their deadweight! Technically, deadweight measures the total amount of weight a ship can carry. At some point, a person’s deadweight is impossible to lift and a ship’s deadweight can sink it!
Over 100 years ago, Charles Spurgeon warned pastors to “…not succumb to the usual idea that we can only gather a few useful workers, and that the rest of the community must inevitably be a dead weight.” Spurgeon was referring to church members uncommitted to the church’s mission of going and making disciples. Regrettably, many church leaders simply assume non-participatory members are a given in churches. The Bible states differently.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth about the church and the roles each person has in the church. He summarizes his message, writing, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (12:27). Just before this summary statement, Paul argues that each member has a role to play. He explains, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body” (12:14-15).
One area of the church’s mission that members can often overlook and assume belongs to its pastors or more mature members is evangelism. The reality is, though, every member of the church—every follower of Jesus—is responsible to go and make disciples, beginning with evangelism. A few Sundays ago, I shared three tools to help each of us become better evangelist:
- Pray – Join Paul praying for boldness (Ephesians 6:19-20) and clarity (Colossians 4:3-4) in your witness and praying for the salvation of souls (Romans 10:1)
- Probe – After you have prayed and engaged someone in a conversation, consider asking several of the following questions as you probe to learn more about the person’s spiritual condition: (a) How can I pray for you? Followed by, Have you prayed the most important prayer in the world? (b) In your personal opinion, what do you think it takes for a person to go to heaven when he or she dies? (c) Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
- Proclaim – Evangelism may begin with sharing your testimony or inviting someone to church, but it cannot stop there. Michael Green defines evangelism as “…proclaiming the good news of salvation to men and women with a view to their conversion to Christ and incorporation into his Church.” John 3:16 summarizes the good news of salvation declaring that God loves, God gave, we believe, and we respond. This message is the one we proclaim!
After decrying the presence of deadweight in the church, Spurgeon went on to say, “Labor to gather a church alive for Jesus, every member energetic to the full, and the whole in incessant activity for the salvation of men.” Will you fight against the tendency to be deadweight in our church? Instead, will you pray for boldness and clarity as you join the great mission of going and making disciples?
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