Just finished the book – “I Am A Church Member” by T. Rainer
Here is my lesson on the book:
Chapter 1 I Am a Church Member
Being a Church member – what does that mean to you?
Do you love your church and the people in it? Does that love drive you to service, to give, and to pray?
If you really love them – does that lead you to action? Because you know love really is a call to action.
God did not give us Church membership to be like a country club atmosphere. Were membership means we have privileges and perks. 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.
Is it possible that the primary reason churches to do not grow (numerically and spiritually is that members in the church are not working properly? Do you feel that you are using your gifts to build up the body?
Remember – one of the beautiful things about the body of Christ is that it is made up of unique members with different spiritual gifts.
Tom Rainer writes “The only thing you have to do to be a member of a country club is to pay your dues. Biblical church membership is completely different – “Do you know how to remain a biblical member of a church? Give abundantly and serve without hesitation.” You can be a member of a church and not do this but you cannot be a biblical member of the church without giving abundantly and serving without hesitation.
The First Pledge – signing the pledge?
Chapter 2 – Unity – I will be a Unifying Church Member.
Scripture emphasizes that church members have a responsibility to create and maintain unity within the church. We will discuss the various ways to create and maintain unity as well as concerns that threaten unity within the church.
Let’s read John 13:35 – The world will know if we are Christians or not by the way we who are believers act toward one another.”
Unity is Not Optional – What is our church known for in our community? What would it take for our community to know that we loved one another and were unified?
Tom Rainer wrote – 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 the church.”
Gossip can destroy a church, but forgiveness will foster unity. Read Colossians 3:12-13
Forgiveness is a central component of believers living in harmony with one another.
Rainer wrote: “Each local church is made up of imperfect members and imperfect pastors. We will make mistakes. We will all sin. Yes we are all hypocrites. Church unity is torn apart when members refuse to forgive, when any member is too prideful to grant forgiveness. Remember, Christ loved us so much that He died on a cross to forgive us. And now, as He has forgiven us, so we must forgive others. It is essential to unity of your church.”
Matthew 6:14-15 – according to these verses – it is impossible to have a right relationship with God if we are not willing to forgive others.
The Second Pledge
Chapter 3 – I will Not Let My Church Be About My Preferences & Desires
Can you describe a time when someone (maybe you) were more focused on their own preferences and desires than they were the best interest of the group?
Scripture emphasizes that church members must be willing to yield their preferences and desires in order to serve others.
“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.”
One big illustration of servant heart is found in John 13:1-17
Washing someone’s feet back in New Testament times would have been the ultimate picture of humility and service.
One of the hardest things is that serving others should push us outside the walls of the church.
Matthew 28:19-20 – Consider the Great Commission
“God there and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” Making disciples doesn’t usually take place within the walls of the church. Think about early churches – they didn’t have walls – they were making disciples when they were fulfilling their regular responsibilities (work).
Do you have someone in your church that best fits the description of having the mind of Christ and a servant attitude?
The Third Pledge
Chapter 4 I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
Study of Ministries of Pastor – 90% of pastors report working 55 to 75 hours per week; 90% of pastors stated they were frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly basis, 72% of the pastors they surveyed only studied Bible to prepare for sermons or lessons. 80% believe pastoral ministry has negative affect on their families. 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend. 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within 5 years.
Does this surprise you?
This session is about church members being vigilant to pray for the pastor and other church leaders on a consistent basis. Biblically we are called to pray for pastors and church leaders. Paul is the greatest champion of this idea. Romans 15:30-31; Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1 and Hebrews 13:18 – taking inventory of these verses, you will quickly recognize that Paul covets prayers from church members, giving him opportunity to proclaim the gospel, protection as he deals with hostile non-believers and integrity as he fulfills his God-ordained ministry.
Tom Rainer noted in the book, we should lift up in prayer:
Pray for the Pastor and His Family
Pray for the Pastor’s Protection
Pray for Your Pastor’s Physical and Mental Health
The Fourth Pledge
Chapter 5 – I Will Lead My Family To Be a Healthy Church Members
In this Chapter, we see that Scripture emphasizes the need for families to instill healthy church membership into their fabric of their family’s DNA. This chapter examines what it means to lead our families to worship, love, pray for, and serve in the church together.
What are the hindrances that prevent families from being more involved in and committed to the church?
Tom Rainer wrote “it’s no surprise that we are taught in Scripture that families are analogous to the church” Ephesians 5:22-6:4
“These passages remind us that, just as we are supposed to sacrifice and love our families unconditionally, so are we to love our families unconditionally, so we are to love those churches where God has placed us. Our family are not perfect, and neither are the members of the church. We are to find out joy in serving both our families and church. We are further reminded of the important of the family to the church. We are to encourage our family members to be faithful to the church. We should pray together as family members for our churches. Indeed, as we are to strive to love our families more deeply, so should we exhort our family members to love the church more deeply”
- Pray together as a family for the church
- Worship Together as a Family
NOW TO KILL THE CHURCH
Never go to your church or meetings held there, If you do go, be late, it’s no one’s affair. If the weather is bad, either too hot or snowing, Just stay home and rest, for there’ll be others going.
But should you attend, be sure and remember To find fault with the work, each official and member. Be sure to hold back on your offerings and tithes, The bills will be paid by the rest of the guys.
And never take office if offered the post, But eagerly criticize work of the host. If not on a committee you’re placed, be sore! If you find that you are, don’t attend any more.
When asked your opinion on this thing or that, Have nothing to say, just turn ‘em down flat. Then after the meeting, shine out like the sun By telling the folks how it should have been done.
Don’t do any more than you possibly can, Leave the work for some other woman or man. And when you see faithful ones work themselves sick, Then stand up and holler, “It’s run by a clique!”
- Love the Church and Encourage Your Family to Do the Same
The Fifth Pledge
Chapter 6 – I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift
Two options of membership Tom Rainer writes about:
- In the first option we approach church membership similar to country club membership. We are joining to see what we can get out of it. The Pastor is to feed us through his sermons, we have specified an acceptable range for the length of sermon. The music is to fit our style exactly. Any deviations are not acceptable. The programs and ministries are for our benefit. We will determine what we like and don’t like. We are members who expect perks, privileges and service.”
- Second option is the biblical option that sees membership as a gift, something to be treasured. Membership means we have the opportunity to serve and give rather than the legalistic option to do so. Our entire attitude is different when we approach membership the biblical way.
Church Membership is a Gift – scripture is clear that salvation is a gift. Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21, Acts 3:18-21, Ephesians 2:1-9
Even though we were dead in our sins, we are made alive in Jesus Christ, He paid our sin debt and made it possible for us to have right relationship with God. This is a priceless gift! It is important for us to recognize that our salvation means that we are part of the body of Christ. The free gift of salvation affords us another gift – being part of the body of Christ.
So see the process… It’s a gift, a gift from God – we should treasure with great joy and anticipation.