Elders' Blog

Operational Stewardship

I don't know whether he coined the phrase, but Ravi Zacharias has been known to say, "The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her." (Jesus Among Other Gods p. 73) This phrase has become a staple in the missional movement as a means to disengage from regular Sunday worship in order to provide acts of service to the local community.

If they borrowed this phrase from Ravi, I think they might have missed the greater context in which he uses it. Ravi describes several stories in which people abuse, degrade or kill the human body in order to gain access or preserve a physical place of worship. So in saying this, Ravi is demonstrating the uniqueness of Christ in holding humans in a higher regard than an earthly temple.  Because of this, we don't have to face a certain direction to pray or gather in a building to worship.

Even so, I do not think Ravi is saying that because Christ views our bodies as a temple, we should no longer gather together in a building to worship God and administer the sacrements or that our places of worship have no value. I would argue that a place of worship is a wonderful gift of God in which we can gather in the name of Christ to be continually equipped and filled for ministry. Without the preaching of the gospel week-in and week-out, we tend to forget it in our acts of ministry.

Without the rememberance of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ through the coventent renewal of the communion meal or the witness of someone being washed in the waters of baptism, ministry becomes a feel-good exercise or something we do for others while the fruit of our own spiritual life rots on the vine. Without corporate confession of sin and praise through song and prayer, we remove ourselves from the heavenly host that surrounds the very throne of God.

I'll say it again. Our place of worship is a wonderful gift of God! Because it is such, we should be stewards of it as well as the people in it. When we joyfully offer our time, talents and treasure to make our place of a worship inviting to the stranger or a home to the faithful, we honor God.

I call it "Operational Stewardship" because it involves some seemingly mundane tasks in an ongoing basis to make sure that gospel ministry can occur. It may not seem as exciting as leading the worship on a Sunday morning or seeing the excitement on a person's face as they begin to understand the work that Christ has done, but it's vitally important work.

When you realize that people can hear God's name being praised because of a sound system you helped build or that a new family feels safe putting their infant in the nursery because you've helped to put up a security gate or that someone finally noticed the church after driving by the 18th time because you planted some brightly-colored flowers near the building, it becomes exciting indeed.

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