This week I read a small book by Thom Rainer called, I Am a Church Member. It has been endorsed by many whom I respect as those committed to the Scriptures and to the importance of the local church.
It is a book consisting of six short chapters and can be read in under an hour. But it packs a punch that makes it worth the rather steep price of R120 on Kindle.
In a day in which church membership is often minimised by many who profess the name Christian, the basic principles expounded in this book concerning the privileges and responsibilities of local church membership serve a very useful purpose. Each chapter ends with an appeal for church members to “take a pledge” to practice the principles just expounded. It ends with a proposal that church members digest the suggested Membership Pledge and that they seek to pursue living out its principled commitments.
I am grateful that, generally speaking, our church gets it when it comes to the priority of affection and involvement in the local church. As a whole, the membership of BBC practices the principles included in the Pledge (see below). Yet there is always room for improvement, and maintenance is better than medicine and prevention is usually much less painful than surgery. So, with this in mind, I simply want to encourage you to thoughtfully consider these words in the hope that our love for Christ and for His church will continue to grow from strength to strength.
May the Lord continue to increase our thankfulness and appreciation that our ultimate identity is that of being in Christ. And what an inestimable and corresponding blessing that, because we are in Christ, we are also privileged to confess, “I am a church member!”
I am a church member. I like the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as in a civic organization or a country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it” (1 Cor. 12: 27). Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I am an “eye,” an “ear,” or a “hand.” As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12: 26).
I am a church member. I will seek to be a source of unity in the church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.
I am a church member. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Saviour went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that are just not my preference or style.
I am a church member. I will pray for my pastors every day. Their work is never-ending. Their days are filled with constant demands for their time—with the need to prepare sermons, with those who are rejoicing in births, with those who are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death, with critics, with the hurts and hopes of others, and with the need to be a husband and a father. My pastors cannot serve our church in their own power. I will pray for God’s strength for them and for their family every day.
I am a church member. I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church, because He gave His life for her.
I am a church member. This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honoured to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.
I am a church member. And I thank God that I am.