Is Your Church an Event or a Family?

Event or Family.002

I found a deal on Groupon. That's how I became a member of Sam's Club. It was a flash deal that came with some great perks. It came with one free rotisserie chicken, a dozen cookies from the bakery and a veggie tray. How could you say "No"? 

This is how some people find the church they belong to or the Sunday event they attend. They like to go for the perks. "The church I go to serves the best coffee and has great donuts." "The church I go to has sermons that are not too serious, the service is not too long." "Well, my church has the most moving music and the kids have so much fun!"

However, joining a church should not feel like joining Sam's Club. It should not feel like adding an event to your weekly calendar. Joining a church should feel like belonging to a family. A family only made possible because of the blood of Christ. At Christ Fellowship, we talk about "meaningful membership" - belonging to a people that you are committed to knowing, loving and serving. The Bible teaches this and shows us what this looks like (Acts 2:42-48; Heb 10:19-25). 

I want to share with you 7 steps that every believer should take to experience meaningful membership. 

1) Be Here. Some people blame COVID but the trend started way before then. Many studies show the average church attender comes about once a month. In fact, I had a family from another church tell me during COVID, "We love the livestream at home. I get everything at home that I get at church." Really? Everything? At home, you actually get everything but the actual church - the people that God has called you to know and love. 

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." We promise in our covenant to do this very thing - to be present together. Make it a commitment to be with the church family every Sunday. 

2) Be Known.  You don't have to be known at Sam's Club. Actually, the sample lady shouldn't know your name. If she does, you are there too much. However, it's dangerous for your soul to go to a church where you are not known. You shouldn't go to a church where no one notices if you are gone on a Sunday. 

The gospel is the good news that we can be fully known and yet fully loved in Jesus. Well, gospel community is the place where you can be fully known and fully loved. You can be known and people aren't going anywhere. They actually want to move closer in the love of Christ. So, make it a commitment to get to know people and let people know you. Linger after the gathering so you might grow as a faith family. 

3) Be Honest. When it comes to being known, let people know the real you. Not the put together you. Not the "I'm blessed, brother!" you. The gospel exposes the worst parts of you and yet welcomes and receives you in grace. In gospel community, we should give one another real freedom to be brutally honest and to be ruthlessly loved. 

James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed." Honest confession in a grace-saturated community is the pathway to real hope and healing for sinners like us. Make it a goal that someone in your faith family always knows what's going on in your heart.

4) Be In Prayer. Paul tells the church at Thessalonica, "Brothers, pray for us." When you give your time to someone it is clear that you care about them. Also, when you give your heart to pray for someone, you truly show them you care about them. We all pray about what we truly care about and everything else we stay silent about.

If you are going to grow in meaningful membership, you must devote yourself to praying for your brothers and sisters. We give out a prayer directory at our quarterly family meetings for this purpose. Pastor Mark Dever says this book should be the most important book to you besides your Bible. One way you can commit to growing in your love for your church is praying for every member, every month.  

5) Be Hospitable. Paul tells the church in Rome, "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." I say in every one of our new members' classes, "The best way to be invested in our church is to make disciples and be hospitable." Neither one of these are scheduled programs run by church leaders. These are organic connections initiated from one member intentionally loving another member. 

Who is someone in the church that you could help grow deeper in the faith? Who are some men or women that you can invest in spiritually on a regular basis? Who is someone or another family that you could have over to fellowship around the table? Taking the initiative to do spiritual good to a brother or sister in Christ looks a lot more like the church in Acts and less like a regular scheduled church program.

6) Be Family. Dhaiti Lewis says, "Church is not like family. It is family." We have repeated that quote a thousand times at CFC. We want this quote to be our reality. We want our church to embody what we see in the Bible. In Acts 4, where the early church was of "one heart and soul" and "had everything in common." 

For this to happen a believer must become convicted that church is not an event. Church is a people I belong to. It's part of my identity as a Christian that I am a part of the people of God. Jesus didn't go to the cross to add something to your weekly schedule. Jesus went to the cross to save you from your sins and to welcome you into a family. 

7) Be Watchful. One of my favorite verses about meaningful membership is found in Hebrews 3. It says this, "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." This verse makes clear that a primary way that I persevere in the faith is through the watchful care of others over my heart.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says beautifully in his book Life Together - "The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother." I need brothers in Christ to know me, to be watchful over my life, and to speak the gospel to my forgetful heart. We all need this from one another. Therefore, commit today to being watchful and not being silent.

It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, "The church is the dearest place on earth." It's my heart's desire that this would be more than just our theology. This would be the preference of our heart. For church is not like family. It is a family of redeemed sinners treasuring their Savior together.