Just like its companion, 2 John, John’s 3rd epistle is short and sweet. It’s another personal letter, this time written to a friend of his named Gaius.
It is very personal in nature. In verse 4 he says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” “My children” – it’s a term of endearment and love from a pastor who is away. They’re not his actual biological kids of course, but he loves them like they are his own and many of them came to Christ under him!
As a pastor, I can resonate with verse 4. After leaving a booming middle school youth group in New Mexico over 2 years ago to move to Clarksville to plant Awaken, returning is always a joy. Although it’s great to see my dad and a lot of friends who live there, one of my joys is seeing many of the students that came to Christ or grew in Christ under my leadership now serving, leading worship, and involved in ministry! There definitely is “no greater joy!”
John specifically talks about their generosity and hospitality, which are vital to every church and every Christian. He mentions that “you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren.” So many people get caught up with a title or recognition within the church that they don’t serve faithfully in the small areas. That’s backwards. The empowerment and opportunity for greater ministry comes in being faithful in the small things – doing “faithfully whatever you do for the brethren.”
If you’re attending a church but not serving, let me stop you there. THAT is a problem. You’re missing a key component in your relationship with Jesus. There’s a saying that goes around about ministry that says “80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.” Let’s change that statistic! 100% of the work should be done by 100% of the people attending the church.
I don’t know your pastor’s stance on serving within the church, but here’s mine:
If you’re sitting around waiting on a “bigger ministry opportunity” or more empowerment, you won’t get it from me. Those opportunities come through faithful service in whatever area you are in.
Do you make copies? Make really good copies.
Do you make coffee? Make the best coffee anyone at your church has tasted.
Do you change diapers in the nursery? Change them with joy, remembering that you’re serving Jesus.
Do you sing on the worship team? Sing with skill, as if Jesus is the only one in the room.
“Do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren.” – 3 John 4
Although John is tender and loving as he addresses the church, he’s also not scared to say it how it is and call people out. A dude within the church named Diotrephes is doing the opposite of what John just commended. The guy is trying to make a name for himself and causing division within the church. John rebukes him and encourages the rest of the church to not follow his example.
He ends the letter by telling them that he wishes to come to them in person, and he tells them to “Greet the friends by name” (3 John 14). One cue I take from John as a pastor is being personal. We’re almost 2 years into planting Awaken Church now, but I’ve always tried to grow my prayer list with the church. I know that I won’t always be able to know every person at Awaken by name, but I try my hardest. Not only that, but I try to pray for each of them by name at least once or twice a week. That began as a 10-minute per day exercise and has grown into an hour-long initiative, but I love it!
Pastors, take a personal interest in the people who attend your church. They’re not just a number or a face in the crowd – they each mean something special to Jesus Himself. He died for them! Treat them like that.