Archimedes Goes to Church

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(Also posted at LeaderWorks)

I was in third grade (I think) when I first learned about the Archimedes principle. I was enthralled. You remember the Greek philosopher and mathematician. He’s the one who said, “ Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world!”  What a powerful statement. What a compelling vision! Even now, nearly 50 years later, I can remember my excitement at the idea!

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And watch what happens when Archimedes and his principle go to church! The leveraging force for the Gospel and for good is truly amazing. It moves the world! The local church, its people and its ministries are an indispensable tool for God in His long term plan to spread the Gospel.

Consider a healthy middle-sized church: 200 members on a Sunday. It has a modest budget.  There are 3-5 staff (full and part-time) that work at this church. It holds a few services during the week. It has three services on a given Sunday. It has the typical complement of ordinary programming: Youth ministry. Sunday school. Women’s groups. It has a specialized local outreach. Maybe it has a small missions program too. A men’s recovery group meets during the week. It has an after-school tutoring ministry.  It operates a summer camp for neighborhood kids. It has a few Bible studies as well. It is a typical middle-sized church.

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But Archimedes is at work in this place. Consider the leveraging impact of this church over the course of a few years of effective ministry.

Here is what could happen: A hundred or more children are taught in its Sunday school and youth ministry. Scores of people are involved in local outreach that impact the lives of hundreds of people that are never be seen on the Sunday morning attendance rolls. The church’s small missions program might have built three or four church buildings in a developing world; they might drill five or six freshwater wells. The summer camp might only be attended by a few dozen teenagers, but it could have maximum impact on many of them. Some of these teenagers will make strong Christian commitments; a few may go into full-time ministry.

All of this will take place under the leadership of a pastor who provides marriage counseling, family counseling, personal mentoring, burial services, Baptism preparation, Confirmation preparation, Christian instruction, strategic planning, crisis intervention, hospital visitation, theological integration, bible studies, one theologically sound and personally encouraging sermon each week, a rapid response team for any local crisis, and significant prayer and spiritual support for hundreds of families.

The members of this church voluntarily give time, talent, and financial treasures to the life of this church. They leverage their ministry into many places and many people…to the glory of God!

And this single church is also part of the one catholic and apostolic church around the world. And through (mostly) voluntary contributions of time and money, the church around the world continues today in strength as the oldest, most successful, largest, self-perpetuating, non-governmental, self-governing, and effective forces for good and the Gospel on the planet.

Archimedes was not a Christian. He could not have been. He lived hundreds of years before Christ. Still, God uses his most famous maxim to move the world. The church…the local church…is still the best long-term investment strategy for those who want to help change the world.

Go Archimedes!

Published on

April 6, 2016

Author

David Roseberry

David Roseberry leads the nonprofit ministry, LeaderWorks. He was the founding rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and is the author of many books. He lives in Plano with his wife, Fran.

View more from David Roseberry

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