As my family and I sit in the nursery, a month has gone by since my wife and I have actually gotten to attend a service; listening to babies cry, preschoolers fighting over the same toy they play with each week, students not listening to the lesson, all the while I can hear a worship service going on that sounds beautiful.
Yet again, I sit in a seat too small for me, holding a child that is making my own child jealous for me. My wife has had a volunteer claim they “need” to be in the worship service, so I selflessly volunteer to help my wife because she should not have to do this alone.
Where are all the volunteers? Who are all these people sitting in the pew? Why does it seem that only the same two families are doing the ministry behind the ministry?
Let’s take a walk through the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. -Matthew 9:35-38
This clearly is not a new question: “Where are the laborers?” Either the God of the harvest has not sent us laborers or the laborers are not listening to the God of the harvest.
Far too many Christians are sitting in their pews expecting to be fed as infants. In some churches, the pastor has to bear the burden of doing all the work while starving himself—these things ought not to be, brothers and sisters. God has not called us to be as cows grazing the field; he called us to minister to a lost and dying world! This verse in Amos comes to mind when I think about the lack of laborers in the church today (Amos 4:1–4):
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through breaches in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon,” declares the Lord.
For so long will our churches have been oppressing society by not being a city on a hill as Jesus commanded us to be! We call ourselves rich but are poor, we say we don’t need anything but are wretched, miserable, blind, and naked. The world sees this too. They don’t take us seriously when they see us as nothing more than “Pew Warmers,” taking up space on Sundays and Wednesdays—and maybe at a scheduled “revival” for three days—while nothing is being revived but the Evangelist’s billfold.
We can sit in the pew and receive faith from the Word, all day, every day. But faith WITHOUT works, that faith is dead and this is the message I bring to you today—that unless men and women awake from their slumber, the church will remain dead. Souls will be lost, and saints will be judged faithless and burn up as wood, hay, and stubble. Each work will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If anyone’s work which he build on the foundation endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire (1 Corinthians 3:12–15).