Read this just now and thought of myself:
More than any other member, the minister is exposed to the congregation. When he stops reading the Bible, they tend to stop! When he stops praying, they tend to stop! When he gossips, they tend to! Conversely when he reads the Bible, prays, loves the brethren, they also tend to follow. This holds good for evangelism. When the minsiter retreats into the seclusion of his study and the exclusive company of church people, other members of the congregation tend to follow the example and retreat into a ‘religious’ world instead of being in the real world.
Not being in a church that promotes ‘one’ minister necessarily above others, it is still the case that leaders have to be living a godly life for the congregation to live a godly life. It puts me in mind of Robert Murray McCheyne and his astonishing living example of Jesus. But also from the same book – Know and Tell the Gospel, by John Chapman from the ever-practical ‘The Good Book Company’ – he describes a church with a reputation for being alive, large numerically, good singing, a wide age range, but also the most impressive point in the meeting was the Sharing Time:
A man in his thirties came straight away to the lectern. He told us that he had been witnessing to a friend at work over a period of months and that he was taking him out to lunch through the week and was going to ask him to turn to Christ. He asked us to pray for him. No sooner had he sat down than an elderly couple came up. They told us that their neighbour was their age adn was totally careless about the thing sof Christ and that every effort that they had made to speak to her had come to nothing and they asked us to pray for them. Finally an entire family came up, father, mother, and three children. The father thanked the congregation for their prayers. They had been to a family funeral and there had been many opportunities for them to witness to their friends and family. They went back to their place and then prayer was offered.
That is VERY impressive. Most churches I have been to are very introspective in sharing times. They were gospel orientated and had the outsiders well in view. I am sure that this came about through careful teaching and by the example of the leaders of this church.
Church is not about us any more. In fact, it’s never been about us! It’s always been about Him, and lifting Him high, and pointing to him. We need to pray that in every relationship we have, we get to the point that we can say: What’s stopping you from asking Jesus now to be your Saviour and Lord of your life? And that, when they come up with the obstacles, we can help them to offload them and move them from minus to plus. If we don’t do it, when we can, it may be that no one else will.