I am the lead Pastor of a Church in the buckle of the Bible belt. That means that the majority of people in this culture consider themselves moderately to heavily religious. Most are (at least loosely) affiliated with a particular church. All are affected by a consumer driven culture. AND – there are a ton of churches or religious groups attempting to serve and recruit from the population. A friend of mine once stated that around here, “if you you through a rock it will hit a church building and bounce off and hit two more before it lands”.
These ingredients make for a interesting recipe within the context of the Christian church. Pastoring here is often akin to herding cats. Everyone is a free agent. Everyone is up for grabs.
Occasionally, however, God will raise up a particular person or family that exceeds the norm and sets the standard as an outstanding church member. Here are a few things I’ve recognized that defines a great church member.
1. A Healthy Self-Concern – The great church member examines his or her heart in light of biblical revelation. They follow the word’s of Christ who required that our righteousness go further (deeper) than that of the scribes and Pharisees. Therefore, they are not judgmental or harsh with other’s for they are primarily concerned with their own obedience from the heart.
2. A Commitment to Scripture – This person holds a very high regard for the sufficiency of scripture. They study it personally, they read it with their family, the crave it intrinsically. They are not seeking extra-biblical guidance, but they are seeking to know the scriptures more deeply and completely. There are at least two results to this commitment:
- Personal Preferences are Limited – Everyone has preferences, but the man or woman who is committed to scripture knows the difference between a scriptural mandate and a personal preference. They are pleased when their preferences are met, but they don’t loose sleep over such things.
- Staff Accountability is Strong – Because they recognize the authority of scripture, they expect church staff to operate under it’s influence and authority. Teaching is judged (properly) by the text of the scripture, rather than humorous appeal or entertainment value. They desire the word of God more than human wisdom. I have no doubt that if the leadership began to drift from clear biblical absolutes, these great church members would hold us accountable, call us to repent, and if we failed to repent they would lead the charge to remove us from office.
3. A Belief in the “Priority” of the Local Church – The first time the word, “Church” is used in scripture is from the mouth of Jesus. The local church was Jesus’s idea. It was his plan for the discipleship of the saint and the evangelization of the sinner. Because the great church member believes this – she builds her life around what is happening at the local church. This isn’t normally intentional, it just happens. They wake up one day and realize that they aren’t driven by the activities of the kids, the requirements of the workplace or the expectations of the school – rather their life is drawn to the local church.
4. An understanding of Authority – While their highest authority is to the word of God, they do recognize that decisions must be made that are not addressed in scripture. But because the scriptures do mandate Pastoral authorities, they willingly and joyfully subject themselves to Pastors believing that God will direct His will through them.
5. Big Dreams for the Church – We tend to dream about things we love. For example, I dream about my kids becoming adults and having their own families. The great church member dreams about what God might do in and through her church. They pray big prayers for their church and they expect big things for their church.
Keep in mind – a great church member may struggle with sin, he may fail at times, but over the long haul you will see that they stay on the boat. I am reminded of Noah and his family. They surely fell down many times in the boat, but they never jumped ship. God saw to it that they arrived safely on dry land. Be a great church member – stay in the ship. And I will pray that your tribe increases.