For all the boasting in Anglicanism about being good at seeing the “Both/And” on many matters, it has seemed strange to me how often I have run into Anglicans who are “Either/Or” when it comes to which is more important in ministry: Being in Christ or Doing for Christ. The story in Luke 10 where Jesus accepts the invitation of hospitality from Martha is often used to highlight these two sides: Martha representing the doing and Mary the being. Those who emphasize being will cite Jesus’ affirmation of Mary’s choice to sit at his feet. Those who emphasize doing will quickly point out that the work of hosting the dinner that Martha was providing still had to be done! And, that Jesus didn’t dismiss that work but rather addressed Martha’s stress and anxiety in doing it.
The reality is that this fits into the “Both/And” scenario. Christ followers are called to both be in Christ and do for Christ. Our liturgy, particularly the Post Communion prayer, is so good at pointing this out: “Heavenly Father, we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal Kingdom. [Being] And now Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord… [Doing]” We’re called to both. In fact, they really go together. Trying to do for Christ without being in Christ means you are serving out of your own strength. That can last awhile, doing good things in his name, but it eventually leads to burning out or being exposed for wrong motives or something. Trying to just be in Christ without doing the work he calls us to misses the Kingdom work he wants to do through you in the world.
The best is when our doing for Christ is a natural overflow of our being in Christ. Developing a balance of both deepening your relationship with Christ and from that place of fullness and security in him, going and doing the specific tasks he’s given you to do is the ideal way to serve.
To that end, the American Anglican Council just held another wonderful ReVive! Church ReVitalization event. This one was at All Soul’s Anglican in Jacksonville, FL. I was reminded why one of the things that makes ReVive! so helpful is that it emphasizes both the being and the doing. I think in the past if your congregation needed more focus on being in Christ, you would have a renewal weekend of some sort. If you needed some focus on skills and practical training on doing the work of the church you would have a workshop of some sort. Both are good, however, with ReVive! we recognized that for a church to experience new life, a “Both/And” event connecting the two is important.
The “Re” in ReVive! is about Renewal of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and emphasizes the necessity of being in Christ. A church can have all the right vision, strategies and tools but if there’s not a passion for Jesus and the power of the Spirit in the hearts of the people, it won’t matter.
Participants experienced refreshing and renewal in the Lord.
The “Vive” in ReVive! is on principles and practical strategies that work to lead to health and growth in the church. Participants comments included: “practical/down to earth” and “A blueprint for how to achieve our vision” among many others.
As you serve the Lord in whatever way he has called you, may you find that sweet balance of both being in him and letting that overflow into doing for him.
And as a blatant promotion, if you think your church could benefit from the ReVive! Church ReVitalization event, please contact us here at the American Anglican Council.
The Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge is Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching at the American Anglican Council.