What about church membership?

I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused ChristianIW

By Thom S. Rainer

B&H Publishing, 2015, 112 pages

The Lord commands born-again believers to assemble together to worship Him and serve Him by serving the brethren.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

After my wife and I accepted the Lord we started off at an independent fundamental Baptist church that was way too judgmental and way too focused on political/cultural battles, a la Jerry Falwell. After 8 years of that stuff I was so soured on church I never wanted to go back again. After a very long hiatus we hooked up with a Southern Baptist church last year. There was a lot more focus on grace than the IFB church but there was still more nationalistic fervor than we were comfortable with and the pastor had a very strange fondness for Catholic theologians. Ugh!

It’s admittedly tough to find a good church out there these days with many young pastors deemphasizing God’s Word and pushing the seeker-emerging-purpose driven model. And we don’t believe in apostolic gifts for today. There’s probably around 20 Evangelical churches within 15 miles of our house but there’s only a handful I would ever want to visit.

We’ve been attending our current non-denominational church for close to two months. It’s not perfect. There’s a few things I would change, but it’s a witness for the Gospel of grace and it doesn’t embrace “churches” with works-righteousness theology. Plus, there’s no jingoistic, patriotic flag waving. We’ve been pretty much anonymous up to this point, waiting to see where the Lord leads.

Southern Baptist, Thom Rainer, has written a couple of short books about church and church membership. “I Am a Church Member” (2013) looked at attitudes towards church and church membership. I just finished Rainer’s follow-up book, “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian,” which looks at what members could/should be doing to better serve their church. It’s an interesting read and motivates me to serve at church sometime down the road instead of staying a spectator.

“I Will” was custom-made for Sunday School classes and weeknight group sessions. Most people could easily read through it in a couple of sittings.

Worship the Lord with other believers. Serve the Lord with other believers. But always, always, always keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Fellow believers aren’t going to have the EXACT same take on everything but if the church you attend doesn’t focus on Jesus Christ, His Word, and the uncompromised Gospel of grace, it’s time to move on.



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