Words to the Body of Christ in 2020
The human body is made up of at least seven different kinds of systems. These are as follows: Skeletal, Respiratory, Nervous, Muscular, Digestive, Circulatory, and Reproductive. Each of these systems is connected and dependent upon one another. For example, what good would a circulatory system be if there was no skeletal system? You would be a person who consists of a fleshly blob. In the Scriptures, the church is likened to a human body. In I Cor. 12:12, Paul writes, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many." These words explain the diversity demonstrated within the body of Christ. Each person plays a vital role within each congregation, and one part of the body is not more important than the other. As an example, in I Cor. 12:15-16, Paul writes, " 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. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body." We must trust that God is the master architect of each local body of believers. Paul reminds us of this in verses 18-19 when he writes, "But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body." We should not think that one part is better than the other. In the physical body, we would not say that the respiratory system is better than the circulatory system. Both are necessary and yet very diverse, but they are connected to and a part of the same body. They must work together to keep a human being alive. This, of course, does not mean that there is not a design for order and leadership in the body of Christ. God has appointed leaders with gifts to initiate and direct the people of God.
In verses 28-29, Paul writes, "And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way." We can conclude that we all play a vital role in the body of Christ, and we must work together so that we can carry the purposes God has placed before us.
Now, as it relates to individual leaders of ministries in the church, we are all part of systems that make up the whole of Wayne Hills. We have large systems such as Worship, Discipleship, Service, and Missions. This is where we have drawn our keywords Connect, Grow, Serve, and Go. However, we also have smaller systems that help to drive each of those larger systems. For example, Sunday School is a smaller system of the larger system of Discipleship.
Many of you participates in a smaller ministry that is an essential cog in the wheel of Wayne Hills Baptist Church. We cannot think that one large or small system is more important than another. For example, if evangelism is prioritized above all else, but there is no discipleship system in place to help people grow in their faith, we have an imbalance. We would have a large nursery of baby Christians and no way to grow them in their faith. It is for these reasons that we must see each other, and the teams we lead, as equally important to the whole of the church. As leaders in the local church, we are called to make disciples by sharing the gospel and growing together in what it means to learn and share that message with one another and a lost a dying world.
So, in closing, there are two questions to challenge you with today? First, is the system you are contributing to benefitting the body of Christ as much as it could be? What changes could you make in that would better the whole of the church? Edward Deming once said, "Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results that you are getting." Every year church members should evaluate how they are doing with fulfilling the vision and mission church as a participant in the their local church.
Second, what are you do personally to contribute to the growth of the people in your circle of influence. Every person should establish goals based on their God-given life-vision. I assure you that you have habits, routines, and systems that are helping and holding back the people you love at any given point in your life. This is not meant to condemn; it is a statement of reality for even the greatest of leaders. The question is, are your systems (Habits/Routines) helping you lead you forward and upward. For example, if you do not have a regular time of prayer, reading, and reflection, then you will not be able to lead your family or benefit your church with vibrancy or longevity. My father spoke of this as trying to give water from an empty well. Prov. 4:23 says it best, "Keep your heart, for out of it flows the wellsprings of life."
I do want to challenge you to prayefully set some goals for yourself in 2020. However, I want you to do so with an understanding that often times goals, by themselves, simply provide direction. However, keep in mind it is your personal systems, routines, and habits that utlimately help you progress to achievement. In his book Atomic Habits, James Cleary writes the following about the relationship between Goals and Systems. He writes, "Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."
Perhaps this year, you should consider prayerfully setting personal goals, work, and church goals accompanied by a study of your current habits, routines, and systems. Let God cultivate and shape some new direction and shape some systems and habits that could make 2020 a fruitful and productive year for you personally and vocationally.
Blessings to You as You Lead in the Body of Christ,
Dr. Jamie McClanahan