The Church Needs Your Voice Even If It Doesn’t Adopt Your Soapbox

a-soapboxThere are too many things to care about. The things that God has said the church should be burdened for are numerous. There’s the obvious things we all know we need to be responsible for: spiritual growth through Bible study, prayer, and corporate worship. We are supposed to share the gospel and make disciples. We are supposed to put sin to death, and fulfill the “one another” commands of Scripture. We are to be good husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, sons and daughters. We are to be good citizens. We are to go into all the nations and proclaim the gospel. If that were not enough there’s yet more that the church should care about. In general we ought to defend the ways of God. We ought to fight against abortion, defend marriage, end sex trafficking, and care for the homeless and the needy. There are yet other Christians who contend we need to fight for nuclear disarmament, fair wages, freedom of religion in the public square, and a billion other things. The list, as you can see, is a bit overwhelming. Who can fulfill all these responsibilities; who can care for all these burdens? The answer is, of course, no one. That’s why these burdens have been given to the church as a whole. So even while an individual church may not be able to adopt every soapbox, it should still welcome every voice of passion.

Churches cannot support ever potential ministry. Jim Collins has well documented the ways in which the “good” gets in the way of the “best” (see Good to Great). There are thousands of good ministries, ministries that should be supported, that should exist, and yet, a single local church cannot possibly support all of them. Churches should support those things which most readily align with their particular vision and mission for their specific locale. To wholesale adopt every ministry would be spread people, resources, and focus too thin. We ought to recognize this as individuals too. While fighting sex trafficking is extremely important to us, such an important ministry may not fit with the overall vision of our church at the present. This is not a denial of the importance of such a ministry, nor a denial of the need for Christians to aid in this fight. It is simply a realization that a single church cannot be involved in everything that is important. We should not, then, begrudge our church for its inability to support our concern.

That realization does not, however, mean that our voice within the congregation is unimportant. One brother’s passion for nuclear disarmament may not become the battle cry of his whole church body, but his passion for the subject should still be welcomed in the body. After all, not many of us will think about this issue. His voice and passion will be an important reminder to us that these issues are pressing and important and worthy of consideration. While our whole church may not show up at anti-abortion rallies, the passion of a few members will be important reminders of the need to defend the unborn. Your church may not be able to launch a feeding ministry for the homeless and food insecure, but the folks in your congregation who are burdened about it, serving in other ministries around the area to provide this need, will keep the rest of your congregation in touch with the importance of caring for the needy. We can’t all champion everything, but as you champion the cause most dear to your heart it will keep your congregation in touch with that idea, and hopefully in prayer for those problems. The church needs a diversity of voices within its membership.

To put more of a fine point on the subject I would say that a diversity of voices in the congregation serves a local church in three specific ways:

First, it keeps us in touch with ideas that we would otherwise ignore. When I read Tyler Wigg-Stevensons’ book The World is Not Yours to Save, I realized that I had never once considered the issue of nuclear disarmament. It’s a subject that he is very passionate about. As an activist he has spent years fighting for this desire to become a reality. If I had never read his book I venture to guess I would, to this day, still think nothing about the subject of nuclear disarmament. It’s not that I am going to go out and join the cause myself; I don’t feel that same compulsion he does. But I shouldn’t be ignorant of its importance, nor should I be thoughtless to pray for such a cause. His voice, speaking on this issue, helped me to confront something I had never before considered. That’s the way a diversity of voices works. It helps us to consider subjects that we are ignorant of, and yet which are important in the world and in the church.

Second, it provides the church with a knowledgeable voice on issues. Propaganda, hype, and fear mongering dominate conversations in the church. Stereotypes abound about homeschooling, common core, or climate control. It’s not always easy to be knowledgeable about these issues and discerning in our beliefs about them. The varied passions of people in our congregation allow us a lifeline for discussion. They give us someone we trust and respect to whom we can go with questions and concerns. It allows us to be informed or at least to have a starting place for intelligent conversation.

Third, it reminds us that our passions are not the only important ones. We all have our soapbox. It’s something that has deep meaning to us and we have a burden to see it addressed, for others to share that burden with us. Yet, we must recognize that others feel the same way about their particular soapbox. I should not be so arrogant as to assume my issues are more important than someone else’s. I should not be so self-consumed as to think that their burdens are less important. Rather, I ought to be humble and recognize that God has brought us together to cheer one another along, support one another, pray for one another, and think of one another as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). The diversity of voices helps me to be humble.

Maybe your church won’t adopt your soapbox, but that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking about it or making it known. We should talk about it with humility, we should be sensitive to reality and to the interests of others, but the church needs your voice. They need to be reminded of the myriads of important matters in the world. They need to see good causes being championed by faithful Christians. The church needs your voice, even if it doesn’t adopt your soapbox.

 

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