Practices, Reflections

Benefits of Church Membership

Recently someone asked me to clarify the “benefits” of being a member of the church (I think their question sounded more like “what’s in it for me?”). I suggested that my answer was “nothing” and that I am more inclined to talk about the “responsibilities” of being a fully devoted follower (aka disciple) of Jesus Christ .  Reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church several years ago helped me clarify the question of membership.  So I pulled his book off the shelf, turned to the chapter “Turning Attenders into Members” and reacquainted myself with some valuable lessons (see pp. 309-329).  Let’s explore …

First, let’s pay attention to the word member.  “Member of what?” one might ask. We understand joining social clubs, country clubs, and civic organizations. Is membership in the church any different?  Yes it is! C. S. Lewis reminds us that membership is not induction into a cold institution, but is becoming a vital organ in a living organism! Scripture teaches us:

  • For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
  • Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15a).
  • Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Being a member of a living body is a difficult concept for USAmericans to grasp.  We have been
raised on the Lone Ranger and far too often we think we can be Christians all by
ourselves.  This is because we have confused “believing” with
“belonging,” that is, many see Christianity as a set of ideas, not as
discipleship (aka followership) of Jesus Christ as Lord. When we “member” ourselves into the church the organism adapts to welcome this addition of life! (Essentially when someone joins the church it re-members itself in a new way as the living body of Christ in the world.)

Membership in the church then involves making a commitment to another person or institution.  Rick suggests that the following questions are probably on people’s minds as they explore making this commitment:

  • The question of acceptance: Do I belong here?
  • The question of friendship: Does anybody want to know me?
  • The question of value: Am I needed?
  • The question of benefit: What is the advantage of joining?
  • The question of expectation: What is required of members?

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Practices

Benefits of Church Membership

Recently someone asked me to clarify the “benefits” of being a member of the church (I think their question sounded more like “what’s in it for me?”). I suggested that my answer was “nothing” and that I am more inclined to talk about the “responsibilities” of being a fully devoted follower (aka disciple) of Jesus Christ .  Reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church several years ago helped me clarify the question of membership.  So I pulled his book off the shelf, turned to the chapter “Turning Attenders into Members” and reacquainted myself with some valuable lessons (see pp. 309-329).  Let’s explore …

First, let’s pay attention to the word member.  “Member of what?” one might ask. We understand joining social clubs, country clubs, and civic organizations. Is membership in the church any different?  Yes it is! C. S. Lewis reminds us that membership is not induction into a cold institution, but is becoming a vital organ in a living organism! Scripture teaches us:

  • For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
  • Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15a).
  • Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Being a member of a living body is a difficult concept for USAmericans to grasp.  We have been
raised on the Lone Ranger and far too often we think we can be Christians all by
ourselves.  This is because we have confused “believing” with
“belonging,” that is, many see Christianity as a set of ideas, not as
discipleship (aka followership) of Jesus Christ as Lord. When we “member” ourselves into the church the organism adapts to welcome this addition of life! (Essentially when someone joins the church it re-members itself in a new way as the living body of Christ in the world.)

Membership in the church then involves making a commitment to another person or institution.  Rick suggests that the following questions are probably on people’s minds as they explore making this commitment:

  • The question of acceptance: Do I belong here?
  • The question of friendship: Does anybody want to know me?
  • The question of value: Am I needed?
  • The question of benefit: What is the advantage of joining?
  • The question of expectation: What is required of members?

Continue reading

Practices

Benefits of Church Membership

Recently someone asked me to clarify the “benefits” of being a member of the church (I think their question sounded more like “what’s in it for me?”). I suggested that my answer was “nothing” and that I am more inclined to talk about the “responsibilities” of being a fully devoted follower (aka disciple) of Jesus Christ .  Reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church several years ago helped me clarify the question of membership.  So I pulled his book off the shelf, turned to the chapter “Turning Attenders into Members” and reacquainted myself with some valuable lessons (see pp. 309-329).  Let’s explore …

First, let’s pay attention to the word member.  “Member of what?” one might ask. We understand joining social clubs, country clubs, and civic organizations. Is membership in the church any different?  Yes it is! C. S. Lewis reminds us that membership is not induction into a cold institution, but is becoming a vital organ in a living organism! Scripture teaches us:

  • For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
  • Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15a).
  • Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Being a member of a living body is a difficult concept for USAmericans to grasp.  We have been
raised on the Lone Ranger and far too often we think we can be Christians all by
ourselves.  This is because we have confused “believing” with
“belonging,” that is, many see Christianity as a set of ideas, not as
discipleship (aka followership) of Jesus Christ as Lord. When we “member” ourselves into the church the organism adapts to welcome this addition of life! (Essentially when someone joins the church it re-members itself in a new way as the living body of Christ in the world.)

Membership in the church then involves making a commitment to another person or institution.  Rick suggests that the following questions are probably on people’s minds as they explore making this commitment:

  • The question of acceptance: Do I belong here?
  • The question of friendship: Does anybody want to know me?
  • The question of value: Am I needed?
  • The question of benefit: What is the advantage of joining?
  • The question of expectation: What is required of members?

Continue reading

Church, Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Growth

Explosive growth: Unleash the creativity of your congregation by Rick Warren

Napoleon
once pointed to a map of China and said, "There lies a sleeping giant.
If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable." Today the American church
is a sleeping giant. Each Sunday, church pews are filled with members
who are doing nothing with their faith except "keeping" it.

The designation "active" member in most churches simply means those who attend regularly and financially support
the church. Not much more is expected. But God has far greater
expectations for every Christian. He expects every Christian to use
their gifts and talents in ministry. If we can ever awaken and unleash
the massive talent, resources, creativity and energy found in the
typical local church, Christianity will explode with growth at an
unprecedented rate.

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Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Marriage

Six characteristics of a satisfying marriage by Rick Warren

When
my wife, Kay, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the doctors
hospitalized her about halfway through her 12-week chemo regimen
because of her serious reaction to the therapy. The effects of the
chemo plunged her into the misery of extreme nausea. Kay was wiped out,
and I was keeping visitors away so she could get some sleep.

I sat there, quietly thanking God for my wife and for his amazing
invention of marriage. With all its ups and downs, I'm certain marriage
is God's primary tool for teaching us unselfishness, sensitivity,
sacrifice, and mature love. As I looked at my wife, I saw that life is
a precious miracle, and that I’m privileged to care for her in sickness
and in health.

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Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Life’s Meaning

God's purpose gives life meaning and value by Rick Warren

One
of the reasons life is devalued in today's culture is that many people
value their own happiness and fulfillment over God's purposes for their
lives.

As a pastor, one way you can protect the sanctity of human life is
to help your people understand that the purpose of their lives is far
greater than personal fulfillment, peace of mind, or even happiness.
It’s far greater than our families, our careers, or even our wildest
dreams and ambitions. If they want to know why they were placed on this
planet, they must begin with God. Each of us was born by his purpose and for his purpose.

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Church, Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Matching Music to Your Target

"Match the Music to the People You Want to Reach" by Rick Warren
Three thoughts about music in worship

I'm often asked what I would do differently if I could start Saddleback over. My answer is this: From the first day of the new church, I’d put more energy and money into insuring a first-class music ministry that
matched our target audience.

In the first years of Saddleback, I made the mistake of underestimating the power of music. Because we didn’t have a lot of talented musicians, we minimized the use of music in our services. I regret that now.

Music is powerful

Music is an integral part of our lives. We eat with it, drive with it, shop with it, relax with it, and some non-Baptists even dance to it!
A song often can touch people in a way that a sermon can’t. Music can bypass intellectual barriers and take the message straight to the heart.

It is a potent tool for evangelism.
In Psalm 40:3 (NCV) David says, “He put a NEW song in my mouth. … Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust the Lord.”  Notice the clear connection between music and evangelism: “Then they will trust the Lord.”

Music is a force that cannot be ignored. The rock lyrics of the 1960s and 1970s shaped the values of most Americans who are now in the 30 to 50 age bracket. Today, MTV shapes the values of most people in their 20s.  Music is the primary communicator of values to the younger generation.  If we don't use contemporary music to spread godly values, Satan will have an unchallenged access to an entire generation.

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