In nature, there’s a word for a place with inflow but no outflow: It’s called a swamp. God’s people are not called to be dead, stagnant swamps, but to offer living water: Cool, fresh, flowing and life giving.
Unfortunately, too many church gatherings are about inflow and not outflow. Churches today are focused on meetings and programs where people receive ministry, rather than places where we can minister one to another — as Scripture commands — according to our differing gifts. Getting people out of the familiar, traditional swamp of going to church to receive ministry, rather than the Biblical mandate to be the church where everyone ministers, is very daunting!
This dichotomy is amply illustrated by two ministries I’m involved with in the local jail. One is a highly structured, thirteen week program that provides intense teaching and scripted study materials to about thirty men who live together in a low-security, faith-based dorm. In that program, some of the strongest pulpit ministries in the county come to teach and minister to the men. With two meetings each weekday, they receive the best preaching and teaching imaginable. It’s like “podium church” on steroids.