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  • Writer's pictureJack Hager

>It’s Not the Church"s Job!

>Caution! The following (from James Emery White) could offend some who have false expectations of the role of a church:

I love the church. I have given my life to the church. I believe, as is often said, that the church truly is the hope of the world.

But that’s not the church’s job. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here you go: Make me close to Jesus! It’s not the church’s job. Save my marriage! It’s not the church’s job. Raise my kids! It’s not the church’s job. Give me friends! It’s not the church’s job. Feed me! It’s not the church’s job. It is not the church’s job to give you the life you want, or hope for, much less the one that you are expected to forge through a relationship with God through Christ under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The church cannot ensure that all goes well with you. Most of life is your responsibility. Why do I say this? To defend the church. Why do people often come to a church? To get fixed, find friends, renew faith, or strengthen family. All well and good, and the church can obviously be of enormous assistance in all four areas. But the church can’t be held responsible for these four areas of life, nor should you expect it to. Let’s try and drive this one home: The parents of a middle-school student drop their child off at a middle-school ministry. The child does not change into a model Christian student. The parents immediately search for a new church with a more effective middle-school ministry. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong is the complete absence of any sense that spiritual life is the responsibility of that middle-school student, not to mention that spiritual leadership within the family is the responsibility of her parents. Instead, we have a mentality of “drop-off parenting,” which is just part of the mentality of a “drop-off church.” We drop our wives off at a women’s ministry to get them to be the wives or mother’s we want; we drop our husband’s off at a men’s Bible study to get them to be spiritual leaders; we drop ourselves off at a service or recovery group to fix our problems, or a Bible study to renew our lukewarm faith. It reminds me of the sixties and Timothy Leary’s famous line regarding not only the benefits of LSD, but the spirit of the age: “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” That is not the way to approach the church. There comes a time when personal responsibility kicks in. The church exists to coalesce and enrich; to coordinate and inspire; to provide order and leadership. It exists to pull together the collective force and will of those who follow Christ in order to fulfill the Great Commission given it by Jesus Himself. Yes, it serves the family trying to raise a child; it seeks to heal those who are broken; it provides the richest of communities for relationships; it offers the necessary resources for a vibrant relationship with Christ. But it cannot circumvent the choices and responsibilities of the human will. It cannot do life for you. That’s your job.

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