What is it that keeps a church alive, healthy, and vibrant? Of course, the easy Christian answer is God. Church would be nothing more than a social club without God. Nothing could be accomplished in the church if it were not for God’s enabling, active presence. We are reminded in Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.”
Yet, we cannot afford to ignore the human element in healthy churches. Often, people tend to think that their involvement in the church is relatively insignificant to the health of the church and the overall kingdom of Christ. This is one of the greatest deceptions. Each individual in a church has a highly significant role in their church. When we realize this, we might begin to take our role more seriously within the church body. The fact is, your presence and active involvement is crucial to the health of your church. Each person has a place carved out specifically for them; a role that was custom made for them to perform. When we minimize the importance of our role or task that God has given us, we set back the Kingdom of God. When we fail to come through we leave a hole to be filled by someone else, which in turn, distracts them from their specific task. This is not meant to be guilt inducing. Instead it is meant to be sobering and to remind us that God wants to use us!
It is up to every individual member of the church to keep the church’s momentum going forward. As the individuals go, so goes the church. Lloyd Cory illustrates this masterfully.
The ministry of the church is a ministry of people. When a church lives, it lives because the people within are vital and active. When a church dies, it withers and dies not because the brick and mortar and carpet and pews get old and begin to crack and rip and crumble. A church withers and dies because the people wither and die.
I think a vivid illustration of this comes from a true story of a young minister in Oklahoma who went to this little, though long-standing, church in hopes of really reviving the ministry of it. He had stars in his eyes and great hopes for the future. He thought he could turn it around. And he gave it his best effort and his best shot week after week, to no avail.
Finally, he had one last idea, and it seemed to work. He announced in the local newspaper on Saturday that the church had died, and on Sunday afternoon there would be a funeral service at the church itself, and all who wished could attend. For the first time in his years there the place was packed. In fact, people were standing outside on tiptoes looking through the window to see this most unusual funeral service for a church.
To their shock, because most of them got there twenty or thirty minutes early to get a seat, there was a casket down front. And it was smothered with flowers. He told the people as soon as the eulogy was finished they could pass by and view the remains of the dearly beloved that they were putting to rest that day. They could hardly wait until he finished the eulogy. He slowly opened the casket, pushed the flowers aside, and people walked by, filed by, one by one, to look in and leave sheepishly, feeling guilty as they walked out the door, because inside the casket he had placed a large mirror. As they walked by, they saw the church that had died.
With that being said, how does one become a church killer? That is, what makes a person a crummy church member? For anyone who wants to be a poor church member, simply do the following:
- Be a consumer and never give of your time or energy.
- Have a sense of entitlement. The church is here to meet my needs.
- Make commitments and never follow through.
- Don’t get to know other members at a personal level.
- Suggest needs to be met and don’t get involved in meeting those needs.
- Never give of your hard earned money.
- Don’t apply what you are taught in church.
- Hate change.
- Wear your feeling on your shoulders.
- Make the extent of your church involvement sitting in a pew on Sundays.
- Criticize things and never offer solutions.
- Talk about others behind their back.
- Assume the worst about others.
- View theology and doctrine as unimportant. See immediate application as all that matters.
- View your contributions as insignificant.
- Assume that because you give of your money that you solely get to call the shots on how things should be done.
- Don’t practice outside of church what you affirm in church.
- Discourage new ideas.
- Place church at the bottom of your priority list.
- Get huffy if no one calls to check on you when you miss.
- Be concerned about trivial matters.
- If things aren’t done your way, be sure to gripe about it and make sure everyone knows it.
- Focus exclusively on the church and ignore the surrounding community.
- Never study by yourself. Make your spiritual needs purely the church’s responsibility.
- Be critical.
- Never forgive others.
It is really easy to be a crummy church member. It takes being intentional to be the hands and feet of Christ and to contribute to the vitality of the church. How different would our lives, churches, communities and the world look if we took our calling to serve seriously? Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
If someone wants to be a crummy church member, what advice would you give them?