Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer

Are you a church member? How involved are you? What define your membership. I have served churches for many years now. It is interesting that church membership often triples the attendance (17). It seems like there is more lack of interest in church attendance than ever before. Church statistics  reveal that churches are declining. Members in their attempt to coerse others to get back on track have joined the "blame game," blaming the decline on culture, politics, hypocritical members or uncaring pastors (5). Thom S. Rainer, pastor, researcher, proposes that church members are more concerned about paying the minimal dues in order to receive the privileges and perks. They are more focused on being served, feed, and cared for instead of focusing on the biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ" (5). Rainer contends that if members will cease to complain about the state of the church and the adverse situations and circumstances within the church setting the church will become healthier. In turn, they will have a positive impact on the community in which they reside (7).

Rainer wrote, I Am a Church Member: Discovering an Attitude That Makes a Difference, to challenge church members to "discover or rediscover the privilege and joy of church membership" (6). He does this by defining the biblical principles of church membership and then leads the reader to pledge to being a committed member.

1) Each member is a functioning member (12).  Every member has a role or function that is necessary for the good of the whole (13). Every member should love each other. Love is defined by the principles of 1 Corinthians; patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not conceited, not acting improperly, is not selfish, not provoked and does not keep record of wrong (14). Members are not content to paying dues alone. They are focused on being a functioning member which includes giving of tithes and offering, serving from our spiritual gifts and abilities (16).

2) Each member is a unifying member (21). Keeping love at the forefront, members are to; seek unity among the brethren even at the sacrifice of personal preferences (24), avoid and rebuke gossip (26), and grant forgiveness and pray for others (27).

3) Each member places others preferences before their own (33). We should have a servant heart (35) looking out for the preferences and need of others rather than themselves. We are to do what it takes to keep unity in the church (39).

4) Each member prays for the pastor and other church leaders for wisdom, insight, and words to preach (46).  Pray for their families and their protection from the devil's trap (49) and for their health and safety (50).

5) Each member should lead their family to be healthy church members by (55) praying for the church, being faithful to the church (59), worshipping together as a family (60), and loving each other unconditionally (62).

6) Each member treasures church membership as a gift (67). In appreciation for what Jesus has done for us it is a natural response to want to serve others (73).

I have been a "functioning" church member for some 50 years, however, Raines reinforced a point that I have heard all my life, "Satan does not have to use the outside to destroy the church, he will destroy it from within." Unless we take our role seriously to make a positive difference church members will actually destroy the church from within. I truly believe that gossip and negativity is what kills the church's influence. I have been too critical of the church, justifying my behavior, as a messenger of truth. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my critical attitude and idle talk. I have committed myself to functioning as Christ called us to serve.

This small book is a quick read, yet packed with the fundamental truths that define a church member. Too many times we assume that all churches have the same expectations of their members. They do not. For this reason, I Am a Church Member would be a great gift to give to new church members to help them understand their attitude and role that is expected of them. It is concise enough to be used as a devotional for Wednesday or Sunday evening services. Order your copy of I Am a Church Member today. Read it and pass it on to someone else, and then ask them to do the same. One by one we can make a difference. Let me know how this book touched you? Were you convicted of changes you need to make?