Church Membership: No More Excuses(Part 1)

Judgment Free Zone. Ten dollars down. Ten dollars a month.

Having been in the health industry for 30 years between being an avid weightlifter, a follower of the Mr. Olympia, a certified personal trainer and a manager at a sport supplement store, I see lines like these fill the ads of many gyms in this competitive industry where everyone wants your money, not necessarily your commitment. After all, last time you skipped, or rather missed a workout, who from your gym or health club called you to check up on you? As long as they get your monthly payments via electronic funds transfer from your bank account, that’s all that matters to them.

This no commitment mindset, no strings attached mentality, has crept into the church. The non-committal gym culture has infiltrated the church so that there is no commitment to a local body of believers and to the governing, ruling, and shepherding of elders. This is manifest by the common phenomenon of church hopping and the uncommon reality of church membership.

I can hear the complaints and excuses echoing down through the corridors of time by those who have been burned in one way or another from the church or have had bad church experiences.

  • “Someone teed me off today, so I just won’t go to this church anymore.”
  • “The pastor never says hello. So why even bother going?”
  • “All Christians are hypocrites. That is why I am not a member of any church.”
  • “I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I read my Bible and pray alone. I don’t need the church.”

I love that last one. Or how about this one.

  • “I love Jesus. I just don’t love the church.”

Even better, right?

  • “I had such a bad experience in my last church, that I simply won’t commit to any one.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of people’s complaints are legitimate. Others are just poor excuses of having been bitten by the non-committal health club bug. And still others are evidence of a clear lack of any interest in the things of the Lord.

So how do you work your way though this intricate maze? Glad you asked. See I knew that NoCo listeners and readers are sharper than most.

First, know the proper responses for everyone of those complaints/excuses I listed above.

  • “Someone teed me off today, so I just won’t go to this church anymore.”

Response: “How fickle. How childish. How immature. Grow up.” For this response it might be helpful to direct the person who uses this excuse to the nursery of the church and hand them a bag of diapers. I am guessing that would either get their attention about how infantile their attitude is or it would send them running away even faster.

  • “The pastor never says hello. So why even bother going?”

Response: Give him another chance or go greet him yourself. He may have been busy ministering to someone. He may have had something heavy on his heart and mind. So take the initiative to encourage him.  Send him an email. Or rather, better yet, write him a personal hand written note. Not a note of complaint. But just to let him know you are praying for him.

  • “All Christians are hypocrites. That is why I am not a member of any church.”

Response: “Come join us. You would fit well.” I remember someone once told me exactly that. I said to him that he should feel welcome because as a sinner like the rest of us he too is a hypocrite. You see, it is easy to point out the faults of others because it takes our eyes of our own weaknesses.

  • “I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I read my Bible and pray alone. I don’t need the church.”

Response: I am excited to hear that you personally read your Bible and have a prayer life. Great. But remember that the Christian life was not meant for lone rangers. We need one another. You need the church to help you grow and for you to serve.

  • “I love Jesus. I just don’t love the church.”

Response: If you love Jesus, you would love what Jesus loves. And the Bible is unequivocally clear that Jesus loves the Church. How much? He gave Himself for her.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”

Ephesians 5:25

If you love Jesus, you would care for what Jesus cares for. Jesus Himself said that as the Good Shepherd He cares for the sheep. How much? He laid down His life for them.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:11-15

What a beautiful and descriptive metaphor Christ uses. Unlike the hired hand, who cares nothing for the sheep, because he is not a shepherd and because he does not own the sheep, and therefore flees when he sees the wolf coming, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for His own sheep.

If you love Jesus, you would love those who are born of God. Actually, the apostle John says the evidence that you are born again, that you are born of God, is that you love others who are born of God. Obviously, it only makes sense. You love those who are part of your spiritual family.

“…everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”

1 John 5:1b

  • “I had such a bad experience in my last church, that I simply won’t commit to any one.”

Response: As I always tell those who take my new members class at our church, the Bible has to be your filter. In other words, whatever bad experiences you may have had, you must interpret them through the lens of Scripture. The mistake that most people make is that they see the Bible through the filter of their bad church experience. The Bible is our final authority for faith and life, not our experience.

Second, obey God’s command to not be conformed to this world.

“Do not be conformed to this world…”
Romans 12:2ath

The idea here is the “pattern” of this world(NIV). Or as J.B Phillips puts it, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” What a vivid picture that helps us grasp what that means. It reminds me of the plastic or tin mould that mom used to use to make a bundt cake. The world says no strings attached. No commitment. The Word says do not conform.

No more excuses. Know. Obey. Know the responses to any of the excuses you may have used to neglect church membership. Obey. Do not conform to the world by letting the world around you dictate to you the same non-committal cavalier attitude to church membership.
 

 

 

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By | 2017-04-03T20:34:40+00:00 October 6th, 2016|Articles|Comments Off on Church Membership: No More Excuses(Part 1)

About the Author:

Hariton Deligiannides

Pastor Hariton Deligiannides is the head of the elder board at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston. Born in Greece, Hariton has a love for his culture and language. But his greatest love is the Lord Jesus Christ and serving Him. Married to Meta in 1996, they have 3 children, Isabella, Elizabeth and Zachary. Saved in 1985, Hariton attended Bethlehem Bible Church during his college days at WPI. He graduated Dallas Theological Seminary in 1992. He was on staff with the Navigators from 1993 to 2001, ministering in NY city. Then in 2001 he moved to Boston to church plant with the Southern Baptists. He was ordained to gospel ministry on June 21, 2003. He pastored Compass Community Church from 2001 to 2010. He joined Bethlehem Bible Church in 2010. Hariton‘s passions are theology, expository preaching and discipling men.