Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Am A Church Member by Thom S. Rainer

Over the last two years, I have found myself being drawn to books that deal with the life and nature of the church. When I think of all the  books I have read, there is one constant theme that keeps coming up again and again. It is Church Membership. In a few short days, Thom Rainer's new book, I Am A Church Member, will be released, adding another helpful book to this discussion on church membership.

In this book, Rainer gives us six attitudes he claims will make the difference. And his wording there is important. It is an attitude. He rightly diagnosis that for many, the problem with church membership is a heart issue. Many people see it like they see membership in any secular organization. I join, pay my dues, and expect to be treated as I want to be treated. But it shouldn't be so with the church. The difference, according to Rainer, has to do with the attitude behind the individual as they approach church. The six attitudes are . . .

  1. I Will Be A Functioning Church Member
  2. I Will Be A Unifying Church Member
  3. I Will Not Let My Church Be about My Preferences and Desires
  4. I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
  5. I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members
  6. I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift

The aspect of the book that impacted me the most was the chapter on leading my family to be healthy church members. I talk to many people about church membership and the importance of serving in the church, but I'm not so sure I talk to my children intentionally about it. Maybe I am less intentional because I feel it is our life, so they will see it by example. He makes a great point about the great opportunity we have to teach our children.
"Part of the opportunity and honor of being a church member is the teaching of our family to love the church. And that teaching often begins by praying together as a family for the church where God placed us" (60).
The strength of this book is found in the pledges that are found at the end of each chapter. It is meant to be a statement that you sign and make a commitment to fulfill. For instance, the pledge at the end of the chapter on leading my family says this:
"I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church because He gave His life for her" (64).
The one aspect of the book that becomes somewhat unclear is what makes a member. I think the most difficult aspect of church membership today is whether someone that comes regularly, serves regularly, and is part of the church . . . are they members automatically? Or is there some formal process they need to take in order to become a member? Or said another way, is membership in the universal church automatically make someone a member of the local church? That is what I would love for someone to unpack.

But this book is well worth the small investment. It will be read easily and quickly. Applying it? That will take a bit more time and energy.

Watch this short trailer. It will help bring the point of this book to life.

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