Some children’s stories teach real life lessons in a marvelous way. A great one is the story of the Little Red Hen.
The tiny tale is of a visionary little red hen who lives in a barnyard with other farm animals. When she finds some wheat, rather than eat it herself, she determines to make more of it than just a meal. At every stage of planting, harvesting, grinding to flour, making bread, etc., she asks “who will help me?” of the other animals. Each time she is told “not I” by every animal. Finally, there is a hot loaf of bread to eat and she asks coyly, “Who will help me eat the bread?” And each animal cheerily replies, “Oh, I will!” But the little red hen, who has done all the work, simply calls her little chicks together and they eat all the bread themselves.
While there are many life lessons to be learned about vision, hard work and team dynamics, the story is also an easy application for churches. Almost every congregation I know of labors to provide beneficial and effective Bible classes. But finding teachers for those classes often goes like this in real life; “Who will study and prepare to teach those classes? Who will help our tiny tots and teens and adults learn the Bible?” “Not I” says most church members.
Everyone wants the church to grow, or so they say, but when you ask, “Who will come early and greet our visitors?” “Who will seek out and speak warmly to our guests?” “Who will invite their friends to church?” “Who will teach their neighbor the gospel?” the answer is often “Not I, not I, not I” by all the church members together.
Everyone likes to join in various activities for churches and families but when you ask, “Who will plan and host the activities? Who will invite groups to their home? Who will set aside time to gather and do good works for the Lord?” The answers often come back, “Not I,” from tired mothers. “Not I,” from busy fathers. “Not I,” from those retired from the workforce.
It is true that almost everyone says they want the church to be better in some way or even many ways, but a better church will never happen as long as most people keep saying “not I.” (Mat. 9:37) “Then He said to His disciples, ”The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few."