There are no benchwarmers in the church. In baseball, there are benchwarmers. In softball, there are benchwarmers. In basketball, there are benchwarmers. In football, there are benchwarmers. We don’t want the bench to get lonely, right?
The silly thing about all of these sports is that people are so often content with a benchwarmer position. Though they may not get to be active on the team and participate in gameplay, they are still on the team. If the teams wins a championship, they have won it as well, even if they have not even picked up a glove or caught a ball.
Christ never meant for benchwarmers to exist in the church. Below, I will list a few reasons why.
All of the Benefit, None of the Cost
Christ does not call us to observe others do all of the work and then gain all of the benefits. In my college days I learned of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This states that in a work environment, 20% of your employees do 80% of your work. In a consumer environment, 20% of your customers buy 80% of your product. I can say that I am among the 20% for Amazon Prime!
This not only exists in the workforce, but Ed Stetzer has noted that it also exists in the church. Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon, but one that existed in the early church. Paul had to address it throughout his letters in the New Testament. He begins in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” After this, he reveals that reason for this commandment, “For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Paul may have been addressing something along the lines of 20% of the people doing 80% of the work.
The issue was not only in that of the workforce, but extended beyond into the church. As it is now, 20% of the people were doing 80% of the giving, evangelistic work, teaching, and so on.
All Are Called to Be a Part
Needless to say, we need a reversal when it comes to this 80/20 principle. If we could shift from 20% of the people doing 80% of the work to 80% of the people doing the work, the church would not only be more fruitful, but more healthy. Overworked areas of the body tend to grow fatigued and myopic, resulting in decreased effectiveness. The way to avoid this is for other areas of the body to pick up the slack. Stagnancy is not an option on the church’s team!
All are given gifts in order to serve, not to remain stagnant (Romans 12:3–8; 1 Corinthians 12:1–31). Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28:18–20 and Acts 1:8 carries no specific group of disciples, but all disciples. That is me! That is you!
Unlimited Positions = No Benchwarmers
In the field of God’s work, there are no benchwarmers. This is because there is always room for another player, another laborer, another disciple. Jesus Himself even said, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). What is Jesus saying? He can’t mean that we don’t have enough workers, can He? But that is exactly what He means! The work that we have to do is so great, that we will never have enough workers. We will always need more. And how are we to get them? Jesus continues, “Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). God will provide more laborers and free up the bench of the benchwarmers through prayer and faithful service.
You have gifts for a reason, employ them! You have been called not to sit, but to be sent! You have been called out of darkness into light in order to be a light to others who remain in darkness!
Don’t warm the bench, for there is not a bench in the house of God’s people. He creates a position for you to play and employ your gifts!