There is not a perfect church in all of the world. We can’t expect to find one this side of heaven. However, we must be consistently reminded of our need for the local church. Just as nobody ever makes it to the summit of Mt. Everest alone, God has not willed for us to journey to heaven alone. God has placed us within the fellowship of a community of believers that we know as a local church as referenced in the pages of Scripture.
In a recent article, I warned about three types of people who often hinder the local church. Today, I want to point to three very different types of people in the local church who are a great help to the building up of the body in love. If every church had these types of people, they would benefit greatly from their engagement in the body life. Are you a person who helps or hurts your local church?
Deacon Without an Office
Far too often, people strive for attention in the local church. We are an attention-loving people in our culture, and that often spills over into the church. The “dirty work” of service ministry is often neglected by those who crave recognition, but offices are a different story. Many people like occupying an office because it looks important, but sadly, many who occupy the office of deacon don’t engage in serving the church. The person who loves to serve the church, but doesn’t hold the official office of deacon (servant) in the local church is a true blessing to the membership and leadership. Who wants to arrive early to turn on the lights on Sunday morning? Who really desires to make sure the floors are swept up after a church fellowship? Who enjoys setting up chairs for a new church plant? What person desires to walk the hallways of the church campus to ensure all doors are locked after a long day of gathering with the rest of the members for worship? It’s often the deacon without an office who carries out such labor for God’s glory.
It’s typically the deacons (office holder) who are asked to engage in the service areas of the church—including hospital visits and other behind the scene efforts. Consider what a church looks like that has deacon-like servants who enjoy rolling up their sleeves and engaging in trench work—without holding an office. Consider the pressure a person can relieve for the busy deacons and elders in the local church. The church that has this type of person often overlooks them because they desire to be overlooked. They are not looking for applause or recognition. In many cases, both men and women are deacons without an office who work tirelessly around the church—looking for opportunities to serve for God’s glory rather than man’s applause.
Another type of person who helps the church is one who helps with words of encouragement. This person is often behind the scenes encouraging people in private conversations, private text messages, and private social media notes intended to lift up the fallen and bring people out of discouragement. The quiet encourager labors with words—often employing weighty words of encouragement—yet with a sincere heart rather than flattery. In fact, the true encourager despises flattery which is fake encouragement—delightful words that a person would say to someone’s face but not behind their back.
In the Scriptures, we see Paul’s words to the church in the city of Thessalonica as he directs them to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11). One of the very reasons the writer to the Hebrews commands the Christians not to neglect the assembly of the church is so that they may encourage one another (Heb. 10:25). In Ephesians 4:29, Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” While the church as a whole is commanded to encourage one another, the quiet encourager often labors in the shadows and behind the scene in order to help edify the body of Christ.
The Humble Giver
One of the great helpers to the church is the one who gives away what God has given them in order that the church can operate a budget and employ ministries designed to make, mark, and multiply disciples both locally and among the nations. I can recall a few years ago when we had a surprise need that arose in the church where we had $85,000 in HVAC upgrades and repairs. After we made the need known to the church, a man walked into my office and handed me a check for $100,000. He wanted to use his resources to help the church meet a need.
While we are all called to contribute to the financial needs of the church body, certain people are gifted with resources that God has given to them for their use within their local church. The one who is a humble giver is often working behind the scenes to meet financial needs, contribute to big building projects, pave parking lots, and engage in mission opportunities and church planting projects without anyone in the church knowing about the gifts. The humble giver is free from the love of money (Heb. 13:5; Ecc. 5:10; 1Tim. 6:10) and looks for opportunities to give away their wealth—investing it in eternally significant causes. The humble giver refuses to be mastered by money, but instead has committed to use his money as his heart is mastered by God. The humble giver contributes without the need to have his or her name on the side of a building or to have a chair at the local seminary named after them. They give it for God’s name sake—not their own.
There are many helpers in the life of the local church, but these three deserve to be recognized although they often run from such recognition. Although you may never be able to get them to receive recognition—one day our God will recognize them and their reward will be eternal. What type of person are you? Are you a help or a hindrance to your local church? Consider how Paul urged the church at Ephesus to strive for maturity so that when each part is working properly it makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:16).