The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      A news story from New York City went viral recently. Similar stories were presented in Texas several weeks ago. The New York story featured a visual of a squirrel outstretched fully on the ground and included the question “Is this squirrel OK?” Representatives from the NYC Parks Department assured the public that squirrels observed in such a position are fine. In fact, NYC Parks indicated, squirrels stretched out in such a fashion are simply “splooting.”
      Splooting is a word with which I was not familiar so I conducted a little research.  Apparently, splooting is a slang term that has been circulating for a while and likely will be included formally in reputable dictionaries in the not-too-distant future.  According to experts in animal behavior, animals will spread out with their legs extended behind them in order to rest and remain cool. While splooting may be observed more frequently in dogs, most animals are capable of and engage in splooting from time to time…particularly when temperatures are high.
      Understanding rest as the goal and purpose of splooting made me wonder how many churches have weary members that might find splooting to be helpful. Now, I’m not referring to stretching out on a pew during a worship service (although I’m sure some congregants have considered the idea on occasion) nor am I thinking about a permanent cessation of church involvement. I am thinking, however, of church splooting in terms of taking a much-needed respite or break from the week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year leadership role and activity in which a person may have been involved for years.     
      In many churches, resting may not seem possible because too few people are handling too many responsibilities. While having committed folks is a blessing for churches, depending only on a few individuals can prove detrimental for church health over time. The church is a body of believers designed by God to function optimally when everyone is an active participant (1 Corinthians 12:4-31). Investing time and effort to help new believers mature in their faith and “plug in” to the life of the church is beneficial to everyone involved and will produce both spiritual and numerical growth within a church.
      Being something of a “D-I-Yer,” I recognize the personal enjoyment and satisfaction of handling a task or ministry responsibility on a solo basis. Having a small number of church members constantly “on call” and accomplishing the majority of the ministry opportunities unassisted, however, will stunt church growth. Why? Because the DIY mindset of a few key leaders may not encourage others to become involved. When church leaders and seasoned church members engage actively and continually in “equipping the saints for the work of ministry to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Jesus,” the blessings of spiritual maturity, Christlikeness, and genuine love one for another will follow as each individual church member exercises their spiritual giftedness and eagerly fulfills a specific role or function within the church (Ephesians 4:12-17). Additionally, opportunities for additional church ministries may increase, over-dependency on a few members will decrease allowing for a brief and needed sabbatical, more laborers will move into the harvest fields, the church will grow as each member does his or her part, and…God will receive the glory!     
      A reminder and word of encouragement may be in order…church splooting should not be considered as an indefinite period of rest where a person checks out and ceases to be involved in all church ministries or activities. Your presence in Sunday School will encourage the new teacher of the class that you led for 20 years. Volunteering to minister to preschool-aged children in extended session during the worship service from time-to-time will encourage the small group of faithful leaders who have handled that important ministry for a decade. Continue exercising your spiritual giftedness for the benefit of the church even if you are not currently chairing a particular committee or ministry team. Inform the student minister of your willingness to host a youth event in your home. If you have musical ability and can play the piano, perhaps volunteer to give the regular pianist a Sunday off. Exploring additional ministry opportunities even while resting from your historic church ministry may lead to new and exciting areas of service for you and for the edification of the church.    


Dear Heavenly Father, Churches across our state, country, and world need leaders who will equip others. Churches across our state, country, and world have church members who need to be equipped for the edification of the body of Christ. May both those who are capable of equipping and those who need to be equipped recognize their dependency on each other and work together. May all of us recognize our dependency upon You and serve willingly as your co-laborers. Amen.