During the COVID-19 shutdown, many were proclaiming that, “The church has left the building.” Well, the church leaves the building every Sunday. Others declared that the church is not a building. This seems obvious to most Christians I know. A good number of folks were proclaiming the church as an assembly of believers and were striving to maintain relationships in the face of the challenges presented by social distancing.
Social distance is a term as inaccurate as it is unfortunate. We needed physical distance and social nearness in times like these. Many of the churches that left the building continued to meet online; not forsaking the gathering.
I recently completed a series of sermons based on Thom Rainer’s excellent book “I Am a Church Member.” The small book (79 pages) outlines what it means to be a church member in a clear, biblical manner with a focus on relationships. I wanted to explore and expound on what the Bible says about church membership.
Rainer stands opposed to the idea that the church exists, primarily, to serve the needs of its members. That would make it more like a country club. A place where, if your needs aren’t met, you will take your money elsewhere.
Church members are the body of Christ gathered to worship, love one another, and bear witness to God’s love for the world. However, we often behave badly towards each other. Some will bully others to get there way. Some will become possessive of their turf. Backbiting and gossip are not uncommon. Jesus said that the world will recognize us as His disciples by our love. We can do better.
“I Am a Church Member” encourages us to move beyond being spectators and consumers. We are to give of our time, talent and treasure in service to God through the church. We are to be loving and humble in our relationships with others. We are to respect and pray for the leaders of our church. We ought to view church membership as a gift; an opportunity to be part of something greater than ourselves.