This final article gives a brief overview of many opportunities that abound in the ecclesia(s) for brethren and sisters to play a meaningful role, that is, to help contribute to the health and vitality of the “body” and in serving each other, to serve Christ. If all such tasks/duties, however insignificant and apparently mundane, are done conscientiously and heartily “as unto the Lord” then God is honoured, the ecclesial family is edified and the “stranger” is encouraged to heed the Gospel call.

Faithful in a Very Little

“Because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” So said Jesus in his parable of the pounds (Luke 19:17). One point we draw from this statement is that our regular tasks, our common responsibilities and duties within our ecclesias are the “very little” things this side of the Kingdom. The tasks and responsibilities awaiting us as God’s servants in the Millennium will surely be on an altogether larger scale, the equivalent to “authority over ten cities”, or “five cities”, and so forth. We further conclude that God and His Son are keenly observing our spirit and attitude, our attentiveness to the “very little” things we do in our service to them and our brothers and sisters. They are looking for faithfulness, trustworthiness, reliability from us in all duties, whether small or large, be they publicly noticed or unnoticed. The parable is surely teaching us that faithfulness in our ecclesial duties today will determine if we are fit for responsibilities in the future age.

The expression “as to the Lord” is found in both in Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:7 (note v5) where we find Paul exhorting servants to the highest standard of honest, trustworthy service to their earthly masters. The assumption by Paul in both places is that, were we to do something “as to the Lord”, we would automatically offer our wholehearted and most genuine effort. Doing anything “as unto Christ’” would warrant the highest standard of preparation and execution from one of his disciples.

So what of the ecclesial duties we undertake? Do we share Paul’s expectation, firstly of ourselves of course, but also of all other servants in the ecclesia? Does our ecclesia foster the expectation and virtue of every duty being conducted “as to the Lord”? If we personally, and the ecclesia collectively, operate on the basis of this fundamental principle what a vibrant, encouraging place the ecclesia would be. Imagine. Presiders, Sunday School teachers, ecclesial camp organisers, Arranging Brethren’s minute takers, Youth Group hosts, welfare coordinators, ecclesial lunch helpers… we could go on and on. There is such a diversity of work and duties undertaken within the body. Now imagine an ecclesia where ALL these duties are undertaken with that goal of wholehearted and genuine effort, with the highest standard of preparation and execution! Truly this would be the ecclesia of the living God, a place where the presence of the Lord Jesus is honoured and loved. This is the kind of spirit and character we would seek to establish in our ecclesias on the eve of our Lord’s return.

Servants in Training for the Kingdom of God

Coming back to Christ’s words in the parable referred to above—they also help us personally with perspective of our duties. Certain ecclesial duties naturally appear greater than others, more critical, more important. But the scale of all our duties will appear small alongside the grandness of the work of Christ and the saints in the Kingdom age. So let’s try and keep the duties we perform in perspective. None of us need consider ourselves better or more important servants than another (Phil 2:3; 1 Cor 12:21–24). We are all, every one of us, servants in training for the Kingdom of God. The duties we personally perform—and all other duties—are vital for the health of the whole and we are bound, not to make onerous comparisons of the relative merits of different ecclesial duties, but to give ourselves faithfully and wholeheartedly to each and every duty that we are privileged to undertake in the ecclesia. Further than this, we ought to be constantly giving God thanks for the good works of His other servants that contribute to our spiritual health and that of our ecclesia (cp 1 Thess 1:3; 3:9).

So what value or importance do we place on the “very little” things, our duties in the ecclesia? Paul was ecstatic that his Lord counted him worthy of involvement in the ministry of the gospel. He saw it as the greatest of privileges, the highest honour to be invited to be involved. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12). To have any role to play in the ecclesia of the living God is—for us who have been saved by the gospel—the greatest privilege, the highest honour. This reality must govern the spirit of faithfulness and dedication to Christ that will underpin our entire ministry in the ecclesia. Whatever forms this service may take, whether they are large or small tasks, noticed or unnoticed, it doesn’t matter. From Sunday School teaching to hall cleaning, from playing the organ to tutoring baptismal candidates, whatever. All duties of service to the ecclesia are a privilege and honour; every duty is important and worthy of our very best endeavour.

Could we ever think there is no work for me? T here is no role for me in the body here? Paul’s exposition of the many members of the one body in 1 Corinthians 12 is clearly teaching otherwise. When we begin to list all the possibilities of service to Christ in the ecclesia, it soon becomes apparent that such a situation is highly improbable. There is much to do, and it is wisdom that ecclesial leaders seek to disseminate the work in the ecclesia as broadly as possible. No members are dispensable.

All Duties are Worthy of our Commitment

We will briefly comment on just a small selection of important ecclesial duties. They can all be undertaken with that faithful spirit that gives a wholehearted, honest effort; that strives for the highest standard of preparation and execution; that seeks the honour and glory of Yahweh and the edification of the ecclesia.

Doormen—ought to exude the spirit of Christ; the warmth, the love, the joy of Christ. They are effectively the face of Christ at the door. “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you…” (Luke 22:15). With these words our Lord expressed his passion to be with his disciples and share the last supper. This desire, this passion should be reflected at the door by the doorman. And be it a stranger visiting our meeting—the will of God that none should perish should be reflected in the kind and generous welcome imparted by those ‘on the door’.

Youth leaders—what a privilege to participate in the spiritual development of those who will potentially become children of God! Youth programs need great care and attention as they require a wholesome blend of spiritual education and social support in a world so treacherous for our youth.

Organists—your enthusiasm for the rendering of praise and thanksgiving to God should inspire the whole congregation. You can help lift the hymns from being just another standard item on the agenda to become key, memorable moments in the ecclesial gathering, where hearts and minds really draw intimately close to God and His Son (Col 3:16–17; Heb 13:15).

Hall maintenance coordinator– the presentation of the place of assembly will reflect to some degree our honour of God. Many ecclesias own their own hall for worship. Whilst true honour and reverence for God lies beyond fine trappings and fittings, nevertheless the way the ecclesial hall is maintained and presented can also be a statement about the ecclesia’s respect for God. Old Testament reformations often featured a cleanout and repair of the Temple, the house of worship (eg 2 Chron 29:3–5; 34:8–11). This is a duty to be undertaken in all good conscience towards the great God who is worshipped from this place.

Seminar leaders—what a challenge to present facts about the Bible in such a way that so grabs the attendees’ interest and attention that they want to search deeper for its life giving truths (cp 1 Thess 2:13). Too many seminar attendees seem to view our seminars as part of their theological education without grasping that the true gospel of the Bible is their only hope. Seminar leaders need to go beyond fancy presentation of Bible related information to actually engage the lives of attendees who need salvation. You represent Christ to the attendee.

Presiding brethren—at Memorial Meetings, Bible Classes and any other meeting the presiding brother plays a key role in setting an uplifting spiritual tone to the gathering. Preparation is the key—know your agenda, predetermine content for introductory comments, prayers, etc. At a Memorial Meeting the role is particularly significant. It is not literally Christ, but the presider who offers the bread and wine for distribution to the congregation. In a sense the presider represents Christ to the ecclesia in this action! A duty certainly to be undertaken “as unto the Lord”.

Sunday School teachers—each year of teaching provides a brother or sister with a special opportunity to develop relationships with the precious children of the ecclesia, children who seriously need association with faithful ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ in the ecclesia for their own growth and stability. Much can be done outside the Sunday school room to consolidate these important relationships. What extra effort will we put in? These children and scholars need to find Christ and establish their lives firmly on him. You, as their Sunday School teacher, may play a critical role in this. Sunday School teaching is a high honour and deserves our best endeavour.

Space doesn’t permit us to comment on a host of other ecclesial duties that collectively bolster the health of the ecclesia, such as the role of the Sisters’ Class secretary, exhorters, roll keepers, those giving public prayers and public reading, to mention a few. Let us recognize the privilege of service to the Lord and give ourselves unreservedly and faithfully to every ecclesial duty that comes our way, “as unto Christ”. By the grace of God greater responsibilities lie ahead!