Equip the Called

God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

Like most pithy bumper-sticker theological sayings, this one has a bit of truth to it. God does have a record of using some unlikely people to accomplish His will. However, this doesn’t mean we should put anyone who is willing in any volunteer position we have within the church.

Imagine this with me for a moment:

Your favorite football team is taking the field. The starters are all new players, fresh off the street without much (if any) training. The coaches have not spent much time teaching them the game or analyzing their ability. Further, they have no pads or helmets, just t-shirts and basketball shorts.

How are they going to do? They’ll get crushed, right? In fact, many of them will probably end up with major injuries that may take weeks to years to fully heal.

Now imagine these two scenarios with me:

Your church has a brand new Christian. This person came forward at an altar call a few weeks ago and expressed a new faith in Christ. They have been regularly attending the Sunday morning service as well as a small group every other week, but have had little to no time spent talking with church leadership about their walk with Jesus.

Your church has a person who is a Christian and has been for a few years, but is struggling heavily—and seemingly losing the struggle—with addiction. This struggle is causing them to strongly doubt God’s love and forgiveness. No one in the church really knows about this other than a member or two of church leadership.

Let us say that both these people want to volunteer at the church and are willing to help almost anywhere needed, from stacking chairs at a potluck to serving on the church board. Where do you ask them to volunteer?

Most American churches are small ones in need of any volunteers they can get, and often both of the above people would end up quickly being asked to assume a position of leadership within the church, be it an explicit leadership position (elder, board member, etc) or implicit one (teacher—especially of an adult class or small group, worship team, etc). This is unfortunate because neither of these people has what they need to be in leadership. They are lacking their training, their helmets, and their pads.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t believe you need to be nearly sinless and/or seminary-trained to serve in the church, even in many leadership positions. That said, many Christians need to be brought up in the faith before they are asked to lead others. Those that are new to Christianity and those that are fragile and barely surviving the struggle to kill sin and keep the faith need the church to train and serve them for a time before they can train and serve others.

To do otherwise is to end up with people bruised and battered and broken by our too-high expectations. They may leave the church; they may stay as the walking wounded.

Neither is good.

So ask the new Christian to attend a new believers class where they can hear the basics of the faith. Ask the barely-surviving Christian to get a coffee with you and talk about your own walk with God.  Come alongside them to help them learn about Jesus. Pray with them and for them. Allow them to volunteer in pressure-free situations – moving tables for a meeting, setting up the church for Christmas or Easter, working in the nursery, attending a church workday, until they are spiritually and emotionally ready to handle the demands of leadership. This is the way a church develops strong people that can lead others in service to God.

Originally posted at The Anon Church blog. Reposted here in its entirety.

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