What I'm Reading: 001 -- I am a Church Member

What I’m Reading by Matt Schuler
001: I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer

What can a Southern Baptist teach a Missouri Lutheran about being a church member? Lots.

I was talking to another pastor about planning for sermon series, and the first thing he recommended was using I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer. I had read a Rainer’s blog, listened to his podcasts (especially Revitalize and Replant), and ordered the book for my Kindle. I finished it that afternoon. 

The first thing I am a Church Member did was challenge my basic conception of membership. I had pushed back as a pastor on emphasizing membership. I was moving away from membership classes and celebrating with people who wanted to join the church. 

Rainer helped me see that I wasn’t rejecting biblical church membership, but what I had seen church membership devolve into. Your church is in trouble if it treats membership like our culture treats membership, because culture says “Membership means perks. Membership means privileges. Membership means others will serve me.”

On the contrary, “Church membership is founded on love: Authentic, biblical, unconditional love.” I can embrace membership in Christ’s church if I’m focused on the right understanding: Love. 

We used I am a Church Member for a six-week sermon series (you can listen to it here), and every week, I proclaimed loudly: “I am a Church Member!” It’s not a sentence most shout with enthusiasm, but when we recognize the tremendous gift it is, to have received salvation as a gift from God then we’d be crazy not to want to share it with others.

“It’s not a legalistic obligation. It’s not country club perks. It’s not a license for entitlements. It’s a gift. A gift from God. A gift we should treasure with great joy and anticipation,” Rainer writes.

We have a few copies of I am a Church Member available. Send me an email and I’ll give one to you.