Lately I have been following the blog and podcast of Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resource. As a person in church leadership I have found his research and analysis very helpful. His most recent book, I Am A Church Member, grew from a blog post that received a lot of attention. This was a great book because it was short and succinct. I could see using this for a new member’s class in a church or for all members who need to be reminded about what church membership is for.
Here are the five pledges of a church member along with a little explanation and my thoughts:
1. I Will Be a Functioning Church Member
A functioning church member will recognize that he is a necessary part of a larger church family. No one part is more important than the whole, but all parts are important. A church member joins in order to give and not receive.
2. I Will Be a Unifying Church Member
“You have a responsibility as a church member. You are to be a source of unity. You are never to be a divisive force. You are to love your fellow church members unconditionally. And while that doesn’t mean you agree with everyone all the time, it does mean you are willing to sacrifice your own preferences to keep unity in your church.”
Church members must intentional work at being a unifying member because disagreement, distrust, and division comes so easily and naturally.
3. I Will Not Let My Church Be about My Preferences and Desires
“But the strange thing about church membership is that you actually give up your preferences when you join. Don’t get me wrong; there may be much about your church that you like a lot. But you are there to meet the needs of others. You are there to serve others. You are there to give. You are there to sacrifice.”
Ten dominant behavior patterns of members in self-serving churches:
1. Worship wars.
2. Prolonged minutia meetings.
3. Facility focus.
4. Program driven.
5. Inwardly focused budget
6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care
7. Attitudes of entitlement
8. Greater concern about change than the gospel
9. Anger and hostility
10. Evangelistic apathy
4. I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
5. I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members
This is often overlooked but so important. It is sad to see so many older church members whose children do not love the church as they once did.