Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Becoming a positive church member

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.


Saturday, August 07, 2021

VBS in the time of COVID

We just finished VBS this week. It was a marvelous triumph, despite its small size relative to past years. VBS at Baptist Temple has included as many as five churches and often involves the assistance of a visiting short term mission team. We have recorded attendances of over 200 and one year had 40 professions of faith.


VBS is a big deal in the American church. It is bigger than Easter and Christmas in most churches. Lifeway, Group, Concordia, and other publishers put out elaborate kits around themes that capture the imagination. Oriental Trading puts out decorations and trinkets linked to the various themes. It is big business. Baptist Temple spent over $2000 in 2019 for VBS.

Kay Richardson has been directing VBS for the past several years, presiding over impressive productions that included a diverse group of leaders and children that included a wide range of age, cultural and economic strata. There have been light shows, worship bands, witty treat and elaborate decorations. Once we had an airplane with a six foot wingspan on stage. This year, however, was her best.

COVID led to the cancellation of VBS last year. This year seemed a bit iffy. The churches with which we usually partnered opted out. Our children’s ministry was small and we were unable to accomplish our typical summer outreach. Kay overcame these challenges and coordinated a VBS program that maximized our resources without taxing our workers. The children had a wonderful time and the workers an enriching experience.

Most important is the fact that we pushed forward in the face of uncertainty and adversity. We were faithful our service to the Lord and emerged victorious. It wasn’t our biggest VBS nor did it set a record for professions of faith, but it was, arguably, our most successful.

A big thank you to Kay and her steadfast team. To God be the glory