I Am A Church Member – the Homily
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Formerly the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, Thom is a speaker and former leader of the Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm that provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period.
His recent book, I Am A Church Member, started as a 500-word declaration about church membership on his daily blog. The blog post started a conversation about the attitudes and responsibilities of church members that previous conversations all but ignored. The response was so overwhelming that it eventually led Thom to write the book on the topic.
I Am A Church Member begins to remedy the outbreak of inactive or barely committed church members, addressing without apology what is expected of those who join a body of believers. When a person’s attitude is consistently biblical and healthy, matters of giving, serving, and so forth will fall into place more naturally.
Six intentional chapters with study questions guide this rising discussion:
- I Will Be a Unifying Church Member
- I Will Not Let the Church Be About My Preferences and Desires
- I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
- I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members
- I Will Be a Functioning Member
- I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift
I want to especially focus on #4.
I was listening to a podcast from Thom that dealt about these topics from a church perspective but definitely apply to contemporary families. They are the reasons why parents feel overwhelmed and out of control today and kids feel stressed, even at early ages.
- Too Many Activities are the natural situation of many families today. This wasn’t an issue years ago. The reason was simple. Years ago our families simply did not enjoy the choices & resources available to us today. Thom recounts a story of a friend of one of his children who travels to Disney World several time a year! The availability of those kind of resources and that kind of expectations of a child is unhealthy. In too many cases, God is less important than busy and busy is more important than priority.
- Comfort. Rut and routine is easier than plan and purpose. The problem here is that if you don’t know the way you’re going, then any road will get you there.
- Lack Of A Family Strategy – General Eisenhower was quoted as saying, “Plans mean nothing. Planning means everything.” Any successful organization has a written plan that drives the activities. Too many families lack a family strategy. Priorities and planning are not driving the family. Programs and activities are driving instead.
- Failure To Kill Programs, Activities. The reason? See #5 below
- Lack Of Courage. Thom talks about a lack of “biblical ABCs –
- A ssurance that this is not right.
- B elief that it can happen.
- C risis that you are prepared for.
When you are prayerful and intentional about your life, this will immediately lead to conflict. Be prepared for it. Fight! It’s important. It’s worth it.
- Biblical Drift or Lack of Faith. What does the Bible say about this stuff? What does the Church teach? People are ignorant and don’t investigate this in two realms:
- What are the theological reasons why God (and his mouthpiece The Church) says what He does?
- Jesus is fully divine. Jesus is fully human. What are the healthy, reasonable, human reasons why God (and his mouthpiece The Church) says what He does?
- Excuses: People say “We’re ok.” No. You’re not. They counter, “We’ll be fine.” How!? You’re a mess. Your family is in shambles. There is a total lack of purpose and family plan metrics. As a result, you have no cogent, coherent and compelling rationale to say that.
So what’s the solution? Look at today’s Second Reading from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5. “Brothers and sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us:
- Everlasting encouragement,
- Good hope,
- His grace,
Encourage your hearts and strengthen your actions – so that your in every deed and word will be good (fruitful, competant) .
He will strengthen you.
He will guard you, your children and your spouse from the evil one.
He will direct your hearts towards God’s love and God’s instruction and God’s strength and God’s endurance. Notice – it’s not about you and what you do. It’s about God and what HE does!
- God’s love,
- God’s instruction,
- God’s strength,
- God’s endurance.
This isn’t your fight. Christ is already the victor. He just needs you to come under his arms, receive his blessings and “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Audio version of the homily is here: