The church with blinders on
In Dr. Thom Rainer's excellent little book, "I am a church member", he walks us through the picture of biblical church membership. With an emphasis on attitudes that church members should embrace, Dr. Rainer lovingly encourages us to engage in church life in a way that honors Jesus. I have been preaching a series of sermons about church membership, loosely based on the book, at First Baptist Church of Jackson, MS. If you are interested in viewing those messages, you can access the video by clicking here. As I was reading through this fantastic little book again, in preparation for a message, I was reminded of a list that I thought was very helpful. The list comes from chapter 3, "I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires." Dr. Rainer shares a list that he has picked up through his interaction with churches from across the country. In the book, Dr. Rainer explains that these are ten dominant behaviors that are consistently seen in churches who are inwardly focused. As I read the list, I could not help but think about all the times I have seen these evidenced in churches. However, as I dug deeper, I could not help but think about the times that I reflected a number of these behaviors.
So, I thought it might be helpful to show the list to you. You might consider this about your own church. Are these evident among you?
1. Worship wars. One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain constant. Certain instrumentation is required while others are prohibited.
2. Prolonged minutia meetings. The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.
3. Facility focus. The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.
4. Program driven. Every church has programs even if they don’t admit it. When we start doing a ministry a certain way, it takes on programmatic status. The problem is not with programs. The problem develops when the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.
5. Inwardly focused budget. A disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.
6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care. All church members deserve care and concern, especially in times of need and crisis. Problems develop, however, when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters. Some members expect the pastoral staff to visit them regularly merely because they have membership status.
7. Attitudes of entitlement. This issue could be a catch-all for many of the points named here. The overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.
8. Greater concern about change than the gospel. Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.
9. Anger and hostility. Members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.
10. Evangelistic apathy. Very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.
By the way, if you are interested in buying these books in bulk for your church, you can pick them up for just $5 each (minimum order of 20 copies). Click here to grab some for your church.