I attend a large church here in Chisinau where I am a member. It is a church where you can hear good, solid messages. Even so, a large church has a disadvantage, in my opinion. It is difficult to get all of the members involved in ministry. It is obvious that most of the ministry positions, such as, deacons, ministers, ushers etc., are held by men. I, as a lady, seem to be limited in what I can do. Men have more of a choice of where to get involved but the females’ possibilities are more limited, perhaps only the choir. To be honest, I would like more opportunities. I want to get fully involved with all that God have given to me. In our church you can not find a ministry opportunity for every one of the spiritual gifts, so I thought about a smaller church where there would seem to be more opportunities to get involved. Plus, there is another important thing I must point out. Though the church I attend is great, it is difficult to create personal relationships and fellowship opportunities. It seems that most of the members are individualists and it is much more difficult for each member to serve the other members like genuine parts of the body. Many end up being overlooked because there are just so many members. The church is large and spread out, unlike a smaller church where everyone is like a family. Please do not get me wrong, I am pleased with every blessing that God has given to me and do not want it to seem like I am complaining. I also know that I will have to stand before God one day and give an account of how I administered the gifts and talents that He gave to me. I want to produce 100 fold out of the gifts that God has given to me. I do not want to be ashamed on that day. I want to be able to say that I did all that could with what He gave to me.
Another thing that motivated me to seek out a smaller church is that when I am faced with a complicated situation or I have to make a difficult decision and do not know what to do, I do not have anyone to ask for advice. I need a spiritual counselor, a pastor, someone who understand me and in whom I can confide. I need people with whom I can form community. Here in my church, we have many pastors, and they are good pastors yet I cannot come to them for advice. I do not feel that I can confide in them. In fact, I have never opened up to any of them. I tried to study the situation to see if there were any reasons why I could not confide in any of the pastors and found the following; some of the pastors are just too busy for me, others are busy serving in the church in other areas besides counseling, and other things like these. I understand our pastors difficulties because in a church as large as ours, it is almost impossible to get everything done and still have time for each individual member. This is just the way that things are in a large church. One solution would be to put a few people gifted with the ability to counsel and well trained. This would be the gift of exhortation (encouragement). They should be of different genders and different ages. This team should be brought before the church and the members should be able to choose the ones who could meet the needs of their souls. This team would be ready to advise the members in the midst of their difficult situations. These spiritual advisers would be led by the pastors of the church. As a ministry team, they could lead God’s people in the day to day needs. I am sure that there are many members in the church who would love to have a team like this serving in the church. Many, I am sure, are just waiting for this to happen. All people face many different types of situations day by day, but unfortunately, are left to face them on their own when it comes to spiritual matters because there is no one to advise them. Some, have fallen into depression because of the lack of help and they believe that there is no hope. I am just an ordinary member so what can I do in this situation? This is the reality of large churches in our church. The same problem is also found in the smaller churches. What can we do to try and change this? How can we do it in such a way that God will be pleased and glorified? Is this a problem of my spiritual maturity or is this really a problem? Thank you very much! God bless you in the work you are doing!
I’m sorry for the situation you are in, but it is good that you wrote and presented your thoughts in detail. Maybe your pastors will get to read this message as well as the pastors of others churches that need to make the necessary changes. I personally think that …
The number of people in the local church does not determine the extent of each person’s involvement
The first church that formed on the day of Pentecost almost 2,000 years ago was a church of 3,000 members on the very first day of existence. (see Acts 2) This is a very large number of people and there is no local church in Chisinau that can match it in number. However, the saints (believers) of the early church were well involved in the ministry because they met every day at the temple where they were taught by the Apostles from the Holy Scriptures and prayed together. The Scripture also teaches us that they met daily and broke bread together in their homes. This is a figure of speech for taking Communion. They were in constant Christian fellowship. These were the small groups of the larger Church of Jerusalem. By fellowship, the writer has in mind that they lived life together, they met often, sharing each others needs and problems, helping one another which is a major reason why the Lord was adding to their numbers daily. It is vital that each local church understands that it cannot limit its activities to worship services only. A major part of the church is small group meetings in homes where members can get to know one another, study the Bible together, pray, and fellowship before the Lord. The church which I pastor, “Good News” consists of 100 members along with their children. There are already too many members for me to spend time with each one on a weekly basis. If we just limited our activities to worship services, then I would not be able to build relationships with the members just on Sunday mornings. Keeping all of this in mind, from the time that we planted the church, we decided to make sure that we offer small group Bible studies throughout the week in homes where other members of the church can come together to study the Scriptures, pray, and fellowship, as well as a place where they can bring their nonbeliever friends to hear the Gospel. Please find a community group within your church and get involved so that you can build lasting relationships.
Let us make sure that we do not fall into another extreme. We all know that there are many small local churches which have a small number of members who are not involved in ministry. The church is more of a small social club where the members take care of one another and new people rarely come because the pastor does not cast a vision for serving the people outside the walls of the church building.
Both men and women have equal opportunities to minister Gospel
Most importantly, women must understand that serving in the local church is not limited to singing in the choir. There are many ministries that women can participate in and should get involved. We are all called to proclaim the Gospel to all people and to do it being completely dedicated whether we are men or women. Did you say that there are no deaconesses in your local church? It could be that there are no ladies in the church who meet the qualifications or it could be that the leadership does not allow women to serve as deacons. The Bible teaches that Phoebe, a deaconess, was of great service to the Apostle Paul. Also, there is a team of ushers in the church (the greeters) and it is important for this team to consist of both men and women. These are two positions in the church that deal with weekly worship services and we must not limit ourselves to just these. We are all called to take the Gospel to the people outside the walls of the local church and in doing this, we must mobilize all of our efforts, both men and women working hard and being totally dedicated. The members of Good News church are all dedicated, both males and females in taking the Word of God to the people outside the four walls of the church (even though we do not have a church building). Most of them lead small group Bible studies in their homes. I am amazed to watch how my wife works so hard to prepare for her 3 groups which she leads. Many of the women and teen girls in the church go and teach the Word of God in public schools, while others spread the Gospel by teaching computer lessons, English, and sports. In fact, all last summer, the members of our church worked day and night in taking the Gospel to the lost and because of this, we managed to organize 11 day camps. This year we plan to do even more. God has now opened many great doors for ministry in a couple of penitentiaries for women which opens up ministry opportunities for the females of the church, one of whom has benefited from this ministry opportunity is our daughter. When we are open to God’s moving, His opening of new ministry doors, we quickly find that we never have enough manpower to meet all of the needs these opportunities produce.
How can you get fully involved with the gifts that God has given to you?
I enjoyed reading about your strong desire to serve the Lord faithfully with all of the gifts and talents that you have. May the Lord help you do this all the days of your life. Since you have this great desire, you need to approach your pastor and the leaders of the church to express your desire to them. This is precisely their role as church leaders – to equip the saints and prepare them for the work of the ministry so that the body of Christ might be edified. (Ephesians 4:11-12) Tell them what you gifts and talents are and that you want to get involved and allow them to show you where you can serve. Please do not think that they are too busy for you or that you are not worthy to serve. These pastors have been given their positions to serve you and the rest of the saints that make up the body of Christ. Be bold and approach them to share your desire to serve.
To whom should you appeal for spiritual counseling?
You need to make an appeal to your pastors, once again, for spiritual counseling. This is once again, their role as church leaders. If there are not enough leaders to meet the spiritual needs then as a church and leadership team, you need to select, train, and ordain new ministers who will be able to meet the spiritual needs of the church. The first church also had problems with not being able to meet all of the spiritual needs.
1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation ; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6 And these they brought before the apostles ; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6)
Here are the results . . .
7 The word of God kept on spreading ; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Acts 6)
Also, if you are part of a Bible study group, then the teacher leading the group will also be able to guide and advise you. He or she will be your mentor, leading you in spiritual things as they are being led by their mentors (the leadership).
Also, when you think of spiritual counseling, do not think that smaller churches are always able to offer good spiritual counseling based on sound doctrine. Spiritual counseling does not depend on the size of the congregation, instead, it depends on the spiritual maturity and training that the leadership has attained.
What should you do now?
I advise you to look for a Bible study group that you can join. Make sure that it is a group connected to your local church that is led by a spiritually mature person who can be your mentor.
Go to one of the pastors or leadership team and share your desire to serve according to the gifts and talents that God has given to you and then be ready to receive direction and serve obediently according to the ministry that you receive.
However, if you do not think that your service is needed or that you may be more efficient in the Gospel by serving in another church, then that is another option for you. It is not a sin to transfer to another church. The local church should be a place where you receive sound teaching from God’s Word, a place where you can be equipped to serve the church and the world according to the gifts and talents that God has given to you. There is a bad teaching that says a person cannot transfer his or her membership from one local church to another.
I have even heard that some pastors have gone to such extremes that they say if you transfer from one church to another then you have sinned as if you have committed divorce. It is wrong to think such thoughts and teach such things. All pastors want people to serve in the local church where he serves as a pastor and I am no exception to this. On the other hand, if a member wants to move to another church and be a blessing to that congregation then I must be ready to bless that person and honor the choice because the Kingdom of God is not limited to my local church or your local church. We must consider the whole body of Christ as we pastor God’s people. May the Lord help us understand this.
And one last thought … a small local church where sound doctrine is taught and lived out day by day will grow to a larger church or begin to plant other churches over the course of time.
Translation by: Erik Brewer