Beyond the staff room

Feb 19
by Wesley C. Parker
Beyond the staff room


One of my first jobs during my teenage years was working at McDonalds - the “Golden Arches”; I ended up working there for almost five years. It wasn’t the greatest job by any means and the pay wasn’t great, but I loved it because it was this really fun community of workers made up of a bunch of my friends from high-school along with other kids my age.  I went on from there to work in a number of different restaurants over the years (even some pretty high-end places) and - each time - the experience was very often the same: great staff and a fun working environment.

   But - without exception - do you know what was required by every single restaurant I ever worked at? As soon as pre-shift was done and I knew my table-assignment for the day, I had to leave the staff room and go out onto the floor.  In every restaurant, it was just understood that those who were hungry would never be fed if the servers didn’t leave the comfort of the staff room and go to where the customers were.

The Call

Throughout God’s word, there are countless calls to those who have been made disciples of Jesus - those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8) - to go out and duplicate the process. 

One of the more well know calls comes from Matt. 9:36-38 where we read, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  The 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.” (ESV) 

Another comes at the end of Matthew’s gospel in Matt. 28:18-20 where - just before Jesus ascends to heaven - He tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV) 

The problem

And as those disciples who’ve been transformed by the gospel, we love to gather and sing about the One who saved us in our Sunday services and listen to sermons/podcasts about Him; we love to discuss how we can know Jesus more deeply in our Home Groups through the week, and to worship Him in our private devotion times each morning.  And so we should!(Heb. 10:24-25) He has saved us and is worthy of our private, as well as our corporate, worship and praise for all time. 

But … do you see the problem with all of those things when held up against the call of Jesus?  Every single one of them has to do solely with serving and feeding those who are already disciples of Jesus; the “staff” - if you will – who are already members of the company. And while, yes and amen, making disciples is more than just creating new ones, it's certainly not less than that.  And my fear is that much of the disciple-making ministry of our churches today is taking place primarily in the “staff room” and not out on the floor where hungry people are dying to be fed.

Which means, we’ve gotten really good at the second part of Jesus’ call to teach those who’ve become disciples to observe all that He commanded, but – all too often - given little more than lip-service to the first part to actually make them.

Regaining the mission

Paul’s call to the church of his day was,

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15)

Which, essentially, is asking us to consider: How are people that are hungry even supposed to taste and see that the Lord is good, when those who are called to bring the life-giving food of the gospel are all still huddled back in the staff-room?


Church/”staff” leaders: what if we led our churches and crafted our messages in such a way that fed and discipled our people well, but that also impressed on them the importance of getting out on the floor to serve the hungry they see all around them every day with the feast from which they’d eaten? Don’t we already know from life that well fed people are some of the best heralds to call others to come and eat as well?

Church/”staff” members: what if we prioritized our mission to serve the hungry and lost over planning yet another staff party for us to enjoy; growing, and being discipled to be more like Jesus as we walk in obedience to what He’s called us to?

In John 20:21 Jesus told His disciples plainly, "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you."  Which means (among a whole lot of other things) that we are a sent people! We’ve had our "staff meetings" and been given our “table assignments”; and all of that is an essential part of the life of the church as well.

But now it’s time for the church of God to also move beyond the staff room; to regain our mission out on the floor where we’ve each been sent. 

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