Membership Has Its Privileges

If you were around during the late 80’s and early 90’s the phrase, “Membership has its privileges” is probably familiar to you. It was a time when credit cards were really taking root in our society, and American Express was trying to set itself apart from the others. They did not want their customers to think of themselves as simply cardholders, but as members of a club. In each ad, that tagline about membership was mentioned. They showed how membership came with status and rewards, but they did not usually mention that it also came with a bill at the end of the month. It was a memorable ad campaign.
Too many Christians treat church membership the same way. Don’t get me wrong, church membership has privileges that go far beyond anything American Express could offer. Most of the good things in my life are directly connected to the church. The church has been there for me in good times and difficult times. The church helps me live as God desires. And best of all, the bill has already been paid. That being said, being a church member comes with responsibilities. It is more than showing up each week.
In his book, I Am a Church Member, Thom Rainer says that many treat church membership like membership in a country club. People pay the dues and expect the privileges that come with it. He does not believe that God intended it to work that way, and I agree with that. In the book, Rainer lists six things that a church member should do that are less about privilege and more about responsibility. There are more we could mention, but his six are a good start.
  1. I will be a functioning church member. There is work to be done and a world to be reached. It is up to all of us to do it.
  2. I will be a unifying church member. Jesus prayed for our unity. He knew the church would be at its best when we are one.
  3. I will not let church be about my desires and preferences. This may be the toughest one on the list, but it is every bit as important as the others. Paul spent a lot of time writing about this problem in the New Testament. We have to consider others above ourselves. We have to make things about God’s desires and preferences.
  4. I will pray for my church leaders. This book was written long before any of us heard about COVID-19 or all the adjustments congregations would have to make. Church leaders needed prayer then, and they definitely need it now.
  5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members. Be the example of all these things to those who are closest to you. The church today and tomorrow need that example.
  6. I will treasure church membership as a gift. I love the fact that God does not only care about how we interact with Him, but He also wants us to love one another. He provided the church so that we could live in that loving community. Jesus is an amazing gift. Eternal life with Him will be an amazing gift. The church is a gift too. We should always think of it that way.
Membership does have its privileges, but being a member of the church is so much more. Let’s always be the church members that God intended us to be. Let’s never take His church for granted.
– Brian

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27

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