Is “Church Service” a Noun or a Verb Phrase?

Christians, myself included, regularly use words and phrases like church, service, follower of Jesus Christ, shepherd, humility, community and surrender.  Yet, the words, phrases and values that actually animate our (my) behavior are very different.  I observe, and am challenged by, a disconnect between the way we typically do church and the way that Jesus lived and served and gave his life.

Country Church from MorguefileWhat if, instead of going to church as the primary activity of Christian faith, we lived to fully express the truth that we are the church?

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  Romans 12:4-5

Perhaps the term “church service” would take on a new meaning as that which we daily live and do (like a verb phrase) instead of a weekly event that we simply attend (the noun).

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s (or woman’s) gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently.”  Romans 12:6-8 (Parenthetical addition mine.)

How would the world be different if thousands of people attended Servanthood Summits in addition to Leadership Conferences?  Does anyone publish a Servanthood Journal?  Would anyone read it?

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28

What would it communicate if First Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist churches renamed themselves Last Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist churches?

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Matthew 19:30

Did Jesus say to “go and create institutions, raise funds, develop budgets, hire staff and build buildings” or to “go and make disciples?” 

imageIf I’m honest, I don’t like to be treated as a servant, certainly not a slave.  I don’t like to be last.  Most of you don’t either.  Sitting passively in a church service is much less risky than employing the verb phrase of church service. It’s far easier to work on quantitative plans and programs than it is to invest oneself in making disciples.

Jesus lived a selfless life of humility, obedience and service all the way to his sacrificial death.  This is the way he overcame the world.

Will we overcome by any different means?

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About Judy

At heart I am a student of truth, an observer of culture, and a communicator. Jesus is my teacher and my Lord. In pursuit of these passions, I read as much as I can, serve as Area Director for Community Bible Study, and write a blog. I take great delight in my relationships with family and friends, and I also enjoy long walks, bike rides and cooking. And did I mention that I like to read?
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13 Responses to Is “Church Service” a Noun or a Verb Phrase?

  1. Evan says:

    I have been asking myself some of these same questions! I am new to ministry, and so far “ministry” is NOT what I thought it would be. I have done more office work than evangelism, more graphic designing than discipling, and more advertizing than relationship building. I just don’t think I was called to work at a non-profit organization calling itself the church!!

  2. Excellent points! Done very well. I agree. I believe the way “church” has come to be viewed and our relationship to it has slipped into a comfortable routine losing much of the enthusiasm of the original joy. Perhaps it’s church leadership in some instances. However, if “we” are the church then this really shouldn’t matter. Thank you for your insights!

  3. Great article! LOTS of “food for thought”. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This post makes my heart sing! Yes. YES! Thanks for another wonderful, intelligent, thoughtful post! Blessings, Diane

  5. Larry Who says:

    Since you’re tossing out great questions, here’s another one to chew on: why not sell all of our church buildings, real estate, pews, and other assets and then give the money to the poor and starving in India or North Korea or parts of Africa? I know it’s a wild idea, but then again, the Christians have revival in China and no buildings, whereas we have buildings and no revival in America. So, what would Jesus do?

    Judy, if I hang out with you, I just might turn into a radical. Thanks.

    • Judy says:

      Yep, it’s a wild idea, and I like it. In fact, God himself has the wildest ideas. Who would have thought that he’d send his son into the world through a young anonymous couple to die for the sins of the world? Wild. Astonishing. I rest my case:) Thanks Larry!

  6. bennetta faire says:

    Always a good post from you, Judy. It is easy to confuse doing and being, verbs and nouns. I guess what I’d like to see–and maybe it’s because of my background–is service that would flow more naturally and spontaneously. I just don’t think Jesus wants to see folks scurrying around, all nervous and fretful, looking for “service”/works to do–anymore than it pleases Him to see us sitting on our collective complacent behinds. If service doesn’t originate from a place of genuine love, peace and desire–the recipients are quick to discern it. The “have to” mentality, usually embroidered with resentment, is quite unattractive–and not reflective of Jesus at all. There’s my buck-fifty’s worth–hope I didn’t veer off topic too badly. God bless you BIG, always–much love, Caddo

    • Judy says:

      What a great point, Caddo. We seem to fall into one ditch or the other, don’t we? I’ve at times done things out of the “have to” mentality and I’ve been passive. Neither brings any joy or satisfaction or Life to anyone. But when I truly serve out of a right heart it is so energizing. Your “buck-fifty” is much appreciated and I pray God’s big blessings back to you! Judy

  7. Terrific post Judy! I agree, For me being a Christian has less to do with Church and more to do with everyday life and sharing my heart with the people who cross my path…Always have been that way…I hope I always will, God willing 😉 Blessings to you!

  8. mtsweat says:

    Moving and fantastic thoughts. We ought to be the body rather than find our fulfillment in congregating in a building. Challenging thoughts.

  9. Laura says:

    I appreciate so many of your posts Judy. You have thoughtful questions. We confuse so many things – like being with doing, and doing with being. Certain Christian words or concepts have become so familiar to us that we have forgotten what the words/phrases really mean. And I appreciate your parenthetical addition to Romans 12:6-8. ; )

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