Friday, September 12, 2008

Insight For Living: Belonging To A Church

Locally we have a pastor in our area that produces little snippets for the local radio station (a very popular station that is local news and talk all day every day). He has titled it Insight for Living.  Today as I was driving to the office his segment came on and it was talking about how some men from his church recently helped him move and there was no grumbling or complaining, just smiles.  He stated that they were not just doing that because he was the pastor as they helped several others in his church move and they demonstrated the same love and joy in helping.  He went on to make his point and it was this: Anybody can be a member of a church all you have to do is show up on Sunday mornings, but it takes a lot more to be a part of a family.  At his church, it is like a family.  

I want to ask you, can anybody be a member of a church?  Is it just as simple as showing up on Sunday mornings?  This did not set well with me as I heard it as I believe his statement is unbiblical and hurtful to the cause of Christ however unintentional.  He seems to elevate this "family" mentality over and above that which is stated as necessary for Christians in scripture: the Church.  The Church is made up of a body of believers that are commanded to be actively growing in sanctification; that is, Christ-likeness.  Being a member is not equivalent with showing up.  It is much, much more and scripture outlines this in Ephesians and I Corinthians 12 when Paul, led by the Spirit, makes a comparison between a body and the church.  What is more, the entirety of the epistles demonstrates the believers need for the Church (and a healthy Church at that).  

I find that these kinds of statements (usually unintential) tend to groom minds to think in such a way as to be careless with their words.  If what he says concerning the church is true, then I might as well pack up, abandon the church and spend some time with my family, afterall, anyone can be a member of a church but not everyone can have a "family".  

In light of that, we have just began our new book studies for this semester at Church.  I am teaching through a book called What is a Healthy Church Member? (geared for the lay person) It is the flip side of the coin of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. (geared for the pastor/elder)  I have already found this book to be very instrumental in helping us, as a body of believers, to understand what it means to be a part of a body and to seek after our corporate health as much as our individual health as we have a responsibility to the body and to our Lord to be healthy.  This is a totally different view of what the Church is and what it is about.  Church is so much more than just showing up on Sunday mornings and without the gospel preached, proclaimed and heralded both from the pulpit and each individual member's lives, it is nothing more than a social club or a "family" gathering.  

I have included a link to a comparative summary between the 9 marks of a healthy church and the 10 marks of a healthy church member below as well as links where you can read online versions of the books.  If you have not heard of either of these books, I would urge you to pick them up and read them.  

9 Marks of a Healthy Church is available free online here. (pdf)  
What is a Healthy Church Member is previewable here.
A comparative summary between the two can be found here. (pdf)


Tim Ellsworth said...

"Insight for Living" is a blatant ripoff of the name of Charles Swindoll's ministry. That's pretty tacky.

B Nettles said...

some men from his church recently helped him move and there was no grumbling or complaining, just smiles....they demonstrated the same love and joy in helping....part of a family.

Is he implying that when you work with family you never grumble? Or maybe, if you do grumble and don't wear that smile, you're not "family."

I admit that avoiding grumbling and complaining is the proper thing to do, but I can assure you that avoidance takes more than "being family." And it certainly shouldn't be the end goal of church.

I guess that's all some people look for in a church....warm fuzzies and all smiles.

Okay, now I'll stop grumbling and frowning. Thank you, jrazz for an "Insight"ful post! :) :) :) :)