So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust. (Martin L. King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” 1963)
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. (ESV)
Pray for your church. No, not the building; the actual church. In other words, pray for your church’s spirit. Regardless of what church you attend (even if it is not a Christian church), pray for your church! People are falling away from organized religion like never before, and rightfully so. Our churches, synagogues, temples, and houses of worship have seemingly lost their power. Our houses of worship might actually be so well “structured” that they have lost the vigor and vitality that once inspired and shaped them. We must “recapture the sacrificial spirit” that sought to literally change people’s lives for the better.
That is the spirit Paul embodies as he goes down to the street to aid young Eutychus who had fallen out of the fellowship. Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to stop preaching, teaching, singing, ushering, “trustee-ing,” “deaconing,” “stewarding,” and serving within the four walls of the church to get back to sacrificial ministry? Your name will probably not be called. Perhaps, no one will even notice your sacrifice, save the one you help and God. Is that enough press and publicity for you? Ask yourself today: Why am I serving or am I serving? The answer to either of those last questions will let you know if you’re ready for real ministry. Let us pray!