Every once in a while i speak to someone who wants to join the church and be a worker. I listen to what people say, every once in a while someone comes along who just wants to serve and is happy to do whatever we feel they ought to do. They have not come to do their ministry. That is music to my ears. They do not say i am the greatest woman of God this side of heaven, that they will be with me forever, they do not sing endless love, they just want to serve. There is something wrong when we need people to tell us how magnificent we are and how their lives are now inextricably tied to ours. Most of those who have said that to me are no longer with me. And i am not weeping.
Previously I would ask people what they expected from the church, now i tell them what the church expects from them; this is where we are going, if you want to be a part of it, this is what we expect from you. We value openess, flexibility, unoffendableness, commitment to spiritual growth, willingness to suffer, to love and forgive. Suffer, offense, that is often a surprise. But it is important we tell people that serving God is not cakes and coffee all the time. Commitment to God still raises hackles, even in church. The devil still finds it unpalatable and he will try to throw a spanner in the works. People will irritate you, annoy you, frustrate you, just keep going, and going with joy. That’s why the Bible says ‘it’s the Lord Christ you are serving’.
Then comes the joy, the enthusiasm, the excitement. That joy full Philippian letter was written in jail, from a man happy to be serving God, who has not checked out because things are hard. Many Pastors spend time keeping people happy who believe that the slightest hint of unhappiness and annoyance is a sign from God that they should leave your church and go elsewhere where they will be happy, since happiness is the new godliness. I cannot guarantee you happiness when you simply join our church. However I can guarantee happiness or rather joy to all those who join our church and are willing to receive the word and apply it, and just obey God in all things, walking in love all the time.
Anything else would be facetious.