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I was speaking with some friends last night and the subject of church came up and I had an opportunity to share about a paradigm shift I’ve made over the past few years that has revolutionized some real key aspects of being a Christian.

The first thing is that I believe God has given ME a ministry – to my wife, my kids, my neighborhood, my workplace, my church, etc. He desires me to live out my faith both with Him and the world around me daily – with passion, integrity and complete abandon.

Secondly, He’s given me a proper perspective on the role of my local church in that ministry. In the past, I felt like I was part of the ministry of my church – one small part of a much larger effort. This meant that I felt obligated to make sure I was operating within organizational parameters. From the curriculum I was taking my small group through, to the volunteer role I was playing on Sunday morning, to the various service activities I put my hand to – all of it was the ministry of the church and I was there to help fulfill it as I could.

That’s not how things are today. Remember, God has given me a ministry and is holding me responsible for it. It is personalized to me and takes into account who I am: my strengths, weaknesses, personality, experiences and the specific skills and talents He chose to endow me with. As such, the local church has become a resource to my ministry. Let me say that again – the local church is a resource to MY ministry; not the other way around.

This has produced a confidence of responsibility that frees me up to listen to the Author of my faith and the Designer of my ministry and move according to His plan. All of a sudden you have a new grid to filter opportunities through and it puts the power and accountability squarely on your shoulders, which can be a bit daunting if you think you are doing this on your own strength. That’s another post altogether though.

The local church’s proper role is to equip and unleash God’s people to pursue Him and His purposes in their lives. Sometimes this is easier for them to say than do, but I think we can help if we will adjust our thinking just a smidge to take responsibility for what God has given us and make that our focus.

As with other paradigm shifts I’ve talked about, there needs to be a cautionary note to prevent misinterpretation. I’m not saying that we should ignore and abstain from getting involved with what the local church is doing. Often, these events are great ways to grow relationships, meet new people and be a blessing to the world around us. The shift is in motivation. No longer do you have to do these things as an obligation to the church, but rather as a strategic choice in serving your God – and there could be no more lovely fragrance to Him than a right heart that’s passionate to serve Him and be a part of His plan for His people.

So, the question comes down to motivation. Are you abdicating the responsibility for your faith to the church or are you taking personal responsibility for your ministry and seeking His guidance about what’s next? You don’t need permission from anyone to do what God is calling you to – you only need faith expressed in courageous obedience.