WE are called to be the church, not just attend a building and make it into a country club. “God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks, “Thom Rainer writes. “He placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the gospel.
Four Implications of Biblical Church Membership
1.Membership Means We Are All Necessary Parts of the Whole. The New Testament includes a number of passages where we clearly see the picture of church membership, such as 1 Corinthians 12 to 14, where the apostle makes it clear that we are connected to one another and dependent upon one another. However; in our modern day, “Some church leaders and members view membership as a modern business or organizational concept, so they reject the label as unbiblical. Membership, to the contrary, is very biblical.”
2.Membership Means We Are Different but We Still Work Together. “With a country club membership you pay others to do the work for you. With church membership, everyone has a role or function. That is why some are hands, feet, ears, or eyes. We are all different, but we are necessary parts of the whole. Each part, therefore, has to do its work, or the whole body suffers.”
3.Membership Means Everything We Say and Do Is Based on a Biblical Foundation of Love. Here, Rainer exposes the common misuse of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and places it back into its original context: “its original meaning was to demonstrate how church members relate one to another….We are not to love fellow church members just because they are lovable. We are to love the unlovable as well. We are not to pray for and encourage our pastors just when they are doing things we like. We are to pray for and encourage them when they do things we don’t like. We are not to serve the church only when others are joining in. We are to serve the church even if we are alone in doing so. Church membership is founded on love.”
4.Church Membership Is Functioning Membership. “Do you know how to remain a member of a country club? Pay your dues. Do that and people will be available to serve you. Do you know how to remain a biblical member of a church? Give abundantly and serve without hesitation…. Biblical church membership is functioning membership.
But what if the primary point of church wasn’t “us”? What if the point was to bring the Good News to the poor? What if it was to care for the widow, the orphan and the alien? What if the primary point was outward service to a world in need as we bring the amazing message of hope and forgiveness found in Jesus?
The way to build a big church is to be “Entertainment Based” and preach milk. (feel good messages aimed at tickling the ears of the hearer, to build a “Equipping Church”, Jesus centered Church it takes men and women who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty, spending time building an intimate relationship with one another, willing to go the extra mile, give your time, money,prayers, and effort to something greater than yourself.
Ephesians 4:11-12(NLT) 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. When the church moves out of the entertaining business and into the equipping business then it moves the people into a far greater responsibility.
The Church exists to include more outsiders, not separate insiders from outsiders.
Four perspectives alluding to why people leave a church.
1, They wanted community…and received only judgment.
- They wanted to affect the life of the church…and found only bureaucracy.
- They wanted a conversation…and got only lectures.
- They wanted meaningful engagement with the world…and got only moral prescription.
Matthew 16:15-18(HCSB) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
verse 18 where the Lord says, “I will build My church.” Men can build buildings and men can build organizations but only Jesus Christ can build the church. There are churches built by men, some of them you have attended, no doubt, as I have. But here our Lord says, “I will build My church,” the only one approved by God and supernaturally constructed.
The church is not built on clever technique. It’s not built on manipulation. It’s not built on a strategic marketing plan. The church will be built on those who affirm divine revelation which is foundational to the church.
“I will build my church.” The church is not a building. It’s a people, with or without a building. But the Bible pictures this people sometimes as tree that grows and sometimes as a building that is built. The point is that this people has a builder, and the builder is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus builds the church.
John 21:15 (HCSB)After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
The first time Jesus says it, the Greek means literally “pasture (tend) the lambs” (v. 15). The Greek word for “pasture” is in the present tense, denoting a continual action of tending, feeding and caring for animals. Believers are referred to as sheep throughout Scripture.
The second time, the literal meaning is “tend My sheep” (v. 16). In this exchange, Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them. This expresses the full scope of pastoral oversight, both in Peter’s future and in all those who would follow him in pastoral ministry.
The third time, the literal translation is “pasture (tend) the sheep” (v. 17). Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest lambs to the full-grown sheep, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity. The totality of the task set before Peter, and all shepherds, is made clear by Jesus’ three-fold command and the words He chooses.
Jesus builds the Church we tend, care for and feed the people. We do it through discipleship, preaching the word, teaching the Word, rebuking, correcting, exhorting, counseling, etc.
Church is not a country club designed to entertain, but people on a mission with Jesus Galatians 1:10(HCSB) 10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.. Our mission is to reach people far from God and teach them how to follow Jesus step by step.