If I leave my church, will they miss me? If I leave my church, will they survive without me?
The first question reflects the opinion that I am not needed. The second question shows an attitude of feeling indispensable. The one says I feel like I don’t matter. The other says no one can replace me. The first one assumes that my contributions are so small that anyone could take my place. The second one assumes that the building and church ministries will collapse without me holding them up.
Which position is correct? Both? Neither?
Scripture is pretty clear that once we put our faith in Christ, we are part of the body of Christ. Whether great or small, each of us plays a vital role (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). The body builds itself up as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16). If I don’t do my part, the church will remain in a state of perpetual adolescence. So, yes, I do matter and the church cannot survive without me.
Scripture is also clear that the church belongs to Christ, not to me. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). He does not need my help. So, yes, I am not indispensable and the church can survive without me.
Over the years, I have experienced both attitudes personally. I left one church and was never missed. Someone else stepped into my position and took it further than I could have. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything and was not needed. I was extremely dispensable. Like stepping out of a river, the water filled in the hole where I was standing.
I left another church and heard from several that the church spent years trying to find someone else to do what I did. I had accomplished a great deal. I was indispensable and not easily replaced. I left too big a footprint.
I have also experienced both approaches in other people. Some who existed on the fringe left the church without saying goodbye and we didn’t realize they were gone until someone said, “I haven’t seen so-and-so in a while.” Others left and when we saw them later, they were surprised that we had not closed the doors and filed for bankruptcy in their absence.
Both of these attitudes reflect a wrong view of self. One describes a perception that is far too low while the other is far too high. In Romans 12:3–5, the apostle Paul writes,
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
As Christ followers, we need to have an accurate view of ourselves that is neither too high nor too low. We need to recognize that we are part of the body of Christ and have an important role to play. In the passage that follows, Paul goes on to explain that each one of us has a spiritual gift that we are to use in service (6-8). We also have a responsibility to “one another” (9-13).
I have a vital role to play and I am needed in the ministry of the church. But the church belongs to Christ and he will build his church.