Every time I press for things that I believe are important in church, I hear, "There is no perfect church." Personally, I think that is an excuse for bad behavior. Here's why. I will certainly agree that there are no perfect people, and the church has plenty of those. A true logistician would say that the argument for a perfect church fails -- and without God's grace, it does. The point is this. We can use imperfection as an excuse for doing nothing, or at the very least, doing it poorly. We can end up leaving excellence up to someone else.
Perfection (the pursuit of excellence) in church, like everything else, begins with a single person making a single decision. When a group of folks (2 or more) do this, we start to see church as something that can be changed for the better. Most established churches have a blend of employees and volunteers. But the Bible doesn't make a distinction between the two in terms of excellence of service. Here are a couple of examples.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might."
Psalm 33:3 "[Regarding music] Play skilfully with a loud noise."
The pursuit of perfection is called excellence. Excellence is a spiritual value that we must uphold. We don't get to say, "That is good enough for me." We need to ask ourselves if it is good enough for God? Some years ago there was a story circulating the Internet. It was about a man that had worked as a carpenter for many years. The owner of the company knew that he was about to retire, and told him that he could split the profits of the last home he was going to build. The carpenter, knowing that every cut corner would put money in his pocket, did everything that he could to save money. He bought the cheapest of materials, fixtures and hired the least expensive sub-contractors. When it was finally completed; his last day of work, the owner handed him a check for half the profits and congratulated him for being so frugal. Shaking the carpenter's hand, he also gave him the keys to the house, and said, "enjoy your new house and have a fruitful retirement."
It's a good illustration. Amen? I am sorry if I stepped on a few toes. If we think that there is a different standard because we are a volunteer, or low-paid worker, there isn't. We are bound to the principal of excellence, and if we commit to something, our "yes" and our back-side better be there.
The following verse takes excellence in our day-to-day Christianity to the next level.
2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. (NET)
As a wannabe blogger, I am pounding the relationship drum again. As Christians, I just want to know where we get off, showing up and going home on Sundays, after passing out a few handshakes, maybe a couple of hugs and few smiles before we go home to light the BBQ? Has is occurred to you that folks at church are there because they need something, and might get it from you? or are you there just to get your needs met? And I might ask, is that happening? I have found that in trying to meet the needs of others, we need to know what they re are!
Paul recognized this problem in the church.
Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound [excel] still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (NET)
He encouraged those in the church to persevere in the excellence of relationship, called love. There are many more examples of excellence in the Bible, maybe take a few minutes to meditate on these.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound (excel) in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 3:13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. (NASB)
1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it (love) toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more (NASB)
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (NET)
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 23:37-38 Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things