Yesterday evening I started reading Chris Castaldo's 'Holy Ground - Walking with Jesus as a former Catholic.' It comes highly recommended, with Don Carson writing that this 'is the best book I have read that chronicles such pilgrimages.' The writer comes across as gracious and clear.
Castaldo gives five reasons why people from a Catholic background are drawn to evangelicalism. The first is 'full-time faith.' Rather than sitting on the sidelines and watching the clergy do everything, evangelicalism offers real and meaningful involvement. This struck me with regards how to prepare our own church for service.
The are a limited number of official roles that we can give people. We can encourage them to be a part of the tech. team, praise band, and be on the various committees. We have a rota for creche, coffee time etc. But many of these things are 'in-house' and only involve occasional use of time. We need to excite people about being full-time ambassadors for Jesus - to see their families, neighbourhood, and workplaces as opportunities to live for Jesus, and to seek to speak the words of the gospel there.
I am struck that although the book of Acts focuses primarily on the ministry of two apostles (Peter and Paul) others also share in the mission. Philip and Stephen speak the good news. Priscilla and Aquila mentor Apollos. In Acts 8 we read that all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, and that those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went (8:4). The gospel spread through ordinary people sharing the good news of Jesus.
So when it comes to getting people involved in the mission of the church I want to think bigger than simply seeing if we can give them some official roll or put them on a rota. I want each of us to realise that our greatest ministry is being ambassadors for Christ. That each one of us has a part to play in this. I want our meetings to encourage and equip us for this task. I want us to see this as a shared privilege. While the thought of leaving our gatherings, and going into the world prepared to speak about Jesus, might feel like stepping alone into the firing line, I want us to realise that we are there to support one another.