Membership #5 – Family Relationships in the Church

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Family Relationships in the Church

How FBC gets along with each other—Membership, part 5

  Do you know how the Church works?  Let me test your thinking.  What do the following words have in common?  Board of directors, committee, majority rule, chairman, business meeting, voting, democracy, corporate officers, parliamentary procedure, elections, CEO:  do you know what they have in common?  None of them are in the Bible, not one–yet how many churches are you aware of that are organized by committees and voting?  Yet none of those concepts are in the Bible.  Those are all American practices based upon government and business.  Sadly, many churches in the U.S. are run by those kinds of patterns, which result in a lot of problems–why?  Because God tells us not to imitate the world. So what determines FBC’s structure of relationships?  The model for our relationships is the Bible, not business.  So what does God say about how we are to all get along?  The very design and nature of the church determines how we are to relate to each other, and the Bible tells us the Church is a fellowship, a flock, a family and a body. Today, as we conclude the five-part membership series, we are calling you to be one heart one mind in relationship to the Lord and to each other. How does that look?  The Bible says . . . #1  The Church is a Fellowship FBC is a group of people gathering together to have fellowship and be a part of THE fellowship.  Look at Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship.”  Circle “the”, not a, but the.  Fellowship is not merely something the church does, but it’s something the church is.  Fellowship means to have in common–what do we have in common?  Christ!  True fellowship in not red punch and stale cookies–fellowship is sharing Christ in and through you to each other. We settle for scraps when we talk so much about sports or events–fellowship is talking about Christ, His Word, His truths.  The word fellowship means communion, co-operation and participation.  Therefore, a top priority in a fellowship is unity.  Without unity you don’t have a fellowship, and without fellowship you don’t have a church–because the church is a fellowship.  Read aloud Ephesians 4:3 with me–it says, “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Diligent means hurry, make every effort.  Unity is of the highest priority in the Church–make every effort for unity.  The implication–a good structure promotes unity and de-emphasizes differences . . . why?  The Bible says unity is important because God won’t bless a divided church.  In the first five chapters of Acts it says ten times that the Church was of one mind, one accord, one heart and soul.  And when a church is unified, it’ll have the power of Acts. Question:  have you ever seen the wrong kind of church government create division instead of unity?  Have you seen a form of decision-making that promotes conflict?  Have you seen a form of government create adversarial relationships?  I have–my friend who was a pastor of a church that had ten boards, five of them with equal authority.  It finally destroyed him as a leader.  Do you know what he and I call that structure?  Chaos.  And this goes on all the time in churches. This was the problem with the church at Corinth, with communion.  Look at 1 Corinthians 11:17, “You come together not for the better but for the worse.”  Ever been in a church meeting that did more harm than good?  What kind of meetings do more harm than good?  Verse 18, “When you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you.”  The Bible says meetings or gatherings that cause division do more harm than good–why?  Because the Church is a fellowship. This is one of the weaknesses of congregational meetings–when you have a meeting where anyone can speak, the most carnal, negative or immature person in the church can stand up and set the agenda.  Ever seen that happen?  It’s called management by objection–it’s wrong.  This is so common, we even joke about it.  Two church kids were in the backyard fighting.  Their mom told them to stop fighting and they said, “It’s okay, Mom–we’re just playing church.”  It shouldn’t be that way, and if our structure is correct it won’t be. Therefore, at FBC we recognize any attitude causing disunity is sin, and any structure that causes adversarial relationships is wrong.  And any meeting that results in division is harmful.  Whatever destroys the unity destroys the church, because the church is to be a unified fellowship.  And what is the main cause of disunity?  Defiant sin.  How do we protect our church from each other as sinners?  This is tough.  How many of you struggle with sin every day?  Just a few.  How can we possibly get along if we are all sinners? First  Sometimes overlook sin, since love covers a multitude of sins First Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  You are a sinner, they’re a sinner.  If their sin affects you, often Christians resolve the situation by remembering they’re just like me–a sinner.  I can let that offence go–it’s not an issue to me.  That goes on all the time in marriage. But if you can’t get over it in your heart, or the sin is damaging to people or dangerous to the Body or in any way defiant or intentional, then the Bible says you must deal with sin.  And we as a church must lovingly, graciously, dependently deal with sin in each other’s lives.  We’re commanded to–therefore at FBC we obey. Second  Address sin in each other’s lives, seeking only repentance Because if we don’t, it will destroy our unity of fellowship.  A Bible Bowl moment—get ready to look up and read with me some of what God says in His Word about loving restoration. Matthew 18:15 to 17, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Romans 16:17 to 18, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” 1 Corinthians 5:5, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” 2 Thessalonians 3:14 and 15, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Titus 3:10 and 11, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.” This is everywhere in the New Testament—it is not optional for the Church!  Churches who don’t practice loving restoration, church discipling, are disobedient.  You are to lovingly confront others who are choosing to continue in intentional sin–any kind of sin that is defiant.  Not sins they are battling, not sin they are struggling with–but anytime a believer knows it’s sin and chooses to sin in defiance of God.  When a believer sins like that, if you love him you’ll go and beg them to repent.  You only always go to others in humility, and you always only desire repentance–you confront defiant sin. Overlook sin in each other’s lives for love’s sake, yes–but when you can’t overlook it in your own heart, or when there is defiance, or when there is danger to others, then go to them in humility and seek to be used of God to bring them to repentance.  Why?  Because the church is a fellowship. #2  The Church is a Flock This was Jesus’ favorite term for the Church.  Jesus loved to call the Church His flock, and that is why He calls elders to shepherd His flock.  Implication–the Church is to be led and cared for by under-shepherds who serve the Great Shepherd.  You could say I am a sub-pastor, and Jesus Christ is our senior pastor. What do shepherds do?  Look at what Jesus said to Peter in John 21:16 to 17, “He said to him again a second time, “’Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” The word “tend” is cool–bosko, it means “to feed”, feed my sheep.  (Wasn’t there a chocolate drink that was called Bosco?)  Bosko my sheep.  Jesus says to Peter–the way you prove your love, Peter, is to feed the sheep—feed Christ’s sheep.  If as an elder I am gifted to preach–the best way I can love you and shepherd you is to feed you God’s Word.  In the New Testament Church, the shepherds were the feeders and leaders.  They didn’t say, “Shepherd you feed and we’ll lead.”  But in fact a great deal of spiritual leadership involves feeding others the Word of God.  Good shepherds are to feed and lead. Do you have an accurate view of church leadership?  There are churches led by one pastor, like Moses–one main guy.  There are churches led by a CEO and a board of directors called elders.  Do you know how the church is supposed to be led?  You need to know what the biblical model is, and how we lead at FBC.  Every single time you read the word pastor in your Bible, it is from the Greek word which should be translated shepherd.  Every time you read the word pastor in the Bible, you can cross it out and write in shepherd, and you’d be accurate.  The term pastor confuses our understanding–it is shepherd. Now the main verb used to describe the function of an elder is the verb shepherding–this is what elders do, along with leading, overseeing, teaching.  Their main job is shepherding.  Add to that, almost every time the term elder is used in the New Testament, it’s used to describe a team, in the plural.  Elders were meant to do the work of shepherding a flock–together.  It is never just one man. Also there are three main terms that describe the same office:  1) elders, 2) overseers who do the work of, 3) shepherding.  Shepherding is their function, elder is their spiritual maturity, bishop or overseer is their responsibility of oversight, and they lead by modeling.  Look at two passages with me demonstrating that elders are bishop-overseers who shepherd.  Each term refers to the same office, referencing a team of men who lead and shepherd the local church together. Look at 1 Peter 5:1, “I exhort the elders [team] among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed 2 shepherd [pastor] the flock of God among you, exercising oversight.”  Peter says, “Elders, do the work of shepherding and oversee/bishop the flock.” Now look at Acts 20:17 and 28, “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders [team] of the church. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  Elders are spiritually mature examples, who together as a team oversee and shepherd God’s local church. I know what you’re thinking–is there a difference between an elder and a teaching pastor?  Yes, the teaching pastor is incredibly handsome, and the elders not so much.  No, but is the teaching pastor more special than the rest of the elders?  Do I have more spiritual powers?  When I visit a hospital, does it count more?  Sadly, no.  Each elder is gifted differently–some are better at hospital visitation than others, but all are called to shepherd and oversee.  So God’s flock is led by a team of shepherds who oversee the sheep. Now stay with me.  When an eldership is modeled after the pattern in the New Testament, even though they function as a team, because each individual elder is uniquely different, with differing gifts and abilities from God, two things occur . . . #1  the elder team can function more like Christ would–which is a good thing, and #2  each elder will give himself more to the areas God has gifted him, just like any other Christian So every individual elder is always unique and different, and occasionally, one or more elders are so strange, the Bible says they’re to be freed up to minister to the flock in unique ways.  When an elder is really weird, the Body is encouraged to hire them.  If an elder is uniquely gifted at oversight, or if an elder is especially gifted at preaching or teaching, they’re the ones the church frees up financially so they can lead and feed full time.  Look at 1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” Most believe those who work hard at preaching and teaching are the same shepherd-teachers who are given by God to the church in order to equip the flock described in Ephesians 4:11 and 12, “And He gave some as . . . pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” Now every elder must be qualified in some measure demonstrating the maturity described in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.  Every elder is required to be apt to teach, meaning able to teach sound doctrine and refute those who contradict.  But not every elder is required to be an equipper–those who fix, furnish and finish what is lacking in the church with the Word of God.  Only some elders are uniquely gifted in this manner and are given to the church. So all the elders oversee (bishop) the church together as a team, they each lead by example, and all of them shepherd (pastor) the flock.  Only some elders are financially supported by the church to give themselves passionately to leading and preaching/teaching to equip.  Just in case you’re wondering, our elders believe (and so do I) that by God’s grace, I’m supposed to pursue the equipping role.  The Lord made me to equip, lead and train.  I hope that is okay with you.  I am massively inadequate in so many areas of my life.  I can cry with you at the hospital, but I’m not spiritually gifted at mercy.  I can counsel, but will never do it as well as others.  Thank you, by the way, for putting up with my weaknesses and inadequacies. So what do you call your elders?  Shepherd Rod, Pastor John, Elder Shawn, Equipper Chris and Bishop Robert all work.  The key is to just call us by our names.  Don’t call me vicar, padre, parson, reverend–I prefer Chris.  The Lord has some strong comments about titles–so let’s stick with names, okay? (though all the elders love Reverend Rod). Jesus Christ designed His church to be led by a team.  Whenever the apostles selected shepherds/elders/overseers, it was always a team of men–never one man.  Therefore FBC does not have one shepherd or one main shepherd with a bunch of junior associate shepherds.  No, we have a team of shepherds who serve this flock, each of us exercising our gifts uniquely but together.  A team not only increases effectiveness, makes leaders more accessible, offers balance and variety, and reduces loneliness in leadership, protects the church from megalomaniacs, but it points to the Godhead who is one, yet a plurality team.  And Jesus Christ designed the church to reflect the diversity and unity of the Godhead.  A team of different elders are to function in unity, seeking to determine the one will of Christ. Yet just like all fathers here, elders are still men, flawed with sin–and even together will occasionally get things wrong.  But our goal is to follow Christ as our Head Shepherd in all things.  Individually, elders really do not have any solo authority–Christ is our head, and the Word is our authority.  But corporately, together we are seeking to follow God’s will laid out in His Word and discover God’s plan for us as a church together by His Spirit. When the elders meet together, we’re not trying to coerce the others to embrace our personal view, but together as a team, we seek to determine Christ’s best direction for our family, through the Word and prayer, since our highest goal is to determine what Jesus wants for FBC.  The goal of the elders is to shepherd, lead and oversee together as a team–a team that functions in unity (unanimously) under one head, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. Elders are not rulers, even though they lead.  They are not sheriffs, they are shepherds.  They are not CEO’s, though they do oversee.  Like a family, the elders think of themselves as fathers to our flock, seeking to love, model, teach, train, lead, and guide the way our heavenly father would.  And as a congregation, you are called upon to follow and submit to this team of shepherd leaders. Hebrews 13:7 and 17, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 13 , “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” Yet it is not merely elders who lead at FBC.  The elders also lead by training other believers in our flock to shepherd, teach, disciple and lead this family with them.  This is part of the reason why we need a membership process–so we can make certain those who shepherd, train, teach and lead are saved, on the same page moving with us together in unity for the glory of God.  The church is a flock that’s led by the Great Shepherd through His appointed, qualified team of under-shepherds. #3  The Church is a Family Because we’re so busy caring for our own family, we often forget when the Lord saved us.  He made us into a special spiritual family–into one giant household where we are brothers and sisters.  Galatians 6:10, “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  We are a family, and the implication is we, as a part of His family are to operate on the basis of relationships and not rules. The greater the relationship, the fewer the rules.  When Jean and I got married, we had all kinds of rules–fold the towels, squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom up, un-ball your socks.  Now we have very few rules–why?  The greater the relationship, the less the rules.  Most often in the church, when you set up policy, it is almost always a reaction to one person’s mistake.  Someone goes to an extreme, so we make a policy and put a clamp on 99% who wouldn’t have a problem, because 1% got out of line.  If you make a rule, you have to enforce it. Therefore at FBC, we don’t make rules but treat each other as family.  We’ll have the hard conversation with the one so we don’t have to make a rule for everyone else.  So how does that work?  First Timothy 5:1 and 2, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”  Because we follow this verse at FBC, we have fewer conflicts in the church.  The Bible says family relationships are to be the model for the church. Those who are older than you, treat them as spiritual fathers.  Like 1 Peter 5:5 says, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.”  Get to know them, ask them questions, follow their example and submit to their leadership.  Don’t make the mistake of our culture, which exalts the young and disdains the older.  Be a learner, be teachable, gain wisdom from those with experience.  My folks taught me to learn from the experienced, and there has never been a time in my walk with Christ where I have not had one or two older, godly men guiding me in life and ministry, including today.  I do not understand younger gals who don’t saddle up next to an older, godly woman, nor younger men who don’t seek out older men.  If we treat each other like family, God will bless us. I also listen to you here, young and old–as a part of this family, listening for the truth of God’s Word and wisdom from God, even in basic conversation, God works through His people.  I actually think you’re dumb or proud when you don’t listen to and learn from others–men and women, young and old, adult and child.  I don’t have many spiritual mothers in the church, cause I haven’t found many women willing to admit being the older woman. The church is a family, so let me ask you–do you vote on everything in your family?  If you did, you’d have ice cream for breakfast, and play Xbox all day.  Why don’t you vote?  Because in most families, the mature are in the minority.  And in the spiritual family, there are different levels of maturity.  And the Bible says, the spiritually mature must be allowed to lead.  But how do you know who is the spiritually mature?  Simple, the criteria for elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us.  They give us nineteen indicators of spiritual maturity, and along with a heart to shepherd, leadership by example, teaching sound doctrine, protecting from error, watching out for wolves–it is elders who are appointed by the Holy Spirit to lead the church. And along with being men of character above reproach and strong in the Word, an elder needs to be a proven family man.  Remember 1 Timothy 3:4 and 5, “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)”  Nowhere does the Bible say an elder must be a successful businessman or have a university doctorate–but an elder has to have good family skills.  Why?  Because the church is a family, not merely a business. I’m to use the same skills leading the church that I did in leading my own family.  What are those skills?  The Bible says as a husband and a father, I put my family above me, lay down my life, train up my kids, love my wife.  And as a shepherd, I am also to put you first, lay down my life, train you up and love you.  So a shepherd is to be to the church as a father is to his family, because the church is a family. If elders together are to lead the church like a shepherd leads a flock, and if elders are to manage the church like a father manages and leads his family, how are decisions to be made in the church?  Since elders are spiritually qualified as models of Christlikeness who lead the church in unity by seeking the one mind of Christ and know the flock intimately as faithful under-shepherds of Christ, and since the congregation is made up of varying positions in Christ–wheat and tares (Matthew 13:38 and 30), varying maturity–fathers, young men and children (I John 2:12 to 14), varying spirituality–hot, cold and lukewarm (Revelation 3:16), varying involvement–the crowd and the committed, then at Faith Bible Church we don’t vote.  Why not? •Voting creates division–when you vote you’re forcing people to take sides; but how can a body be divided against itself. •Every time you vote, you’re causing someone to lose–as you continue to vote, eventually you’ll have a church full of losers. •Most importantly, voting is not found in the Bible–there is not one example in the New Testament of the Church ever voting on anything.  This was so foreign in the New Testament, when they chose a replacement for Judas, before the Spirit came in Acts 2, they cast lots–they didn’t vote.  They were more likely to throw dice or draw straws than to vote. •Practically, voting is also not the best plan for determining spiritual direction.  In fact there is only one time in the New Testament you find majority rule–it was Acts 27 where Paul voted not to sail, but majority voted to sail and the result was they shipwrecked. •The majority is not often right–the majority wanted to go back to Egypt, and the majority of the spies didn’t want to enter the land. God has called elders (together) to lead the church.  Look at Hebrews 13:7, “Remember those who led you.”  First Timothy 5:17, “The elders who rule well.”  So how does the congregation and eldership function together in unity?  Like in Acts 15:22 when it says, “It seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church.”  As a family, the church is led by elders through a relationship of intimacy based upon mutual trust.  The elders seek to communicate honestly and regularly, especially to the members.  And we live with each other in mutual submission to God’s Word.  And like a healthy family, we trust each other because love believes all things.  Plus the elders take extra steps to be above reproach, like having the non-paid elders decide the salaries of the paid elders and staff–and we seek to listen to everyone in the family. So if you’re a critic, complainer, conspiracy theorist or unwilling to trust your elders, then this may not be your family.  We love that you ask questions, but questions based on trust.  If you can respect your elders as spiritual fathers doing their best to shepherd this family, this would be a great household for you.  Elders are far from perfect, but true elders have learned to be dependent upon Christ and His Word–that is why the Bible commands you to extend trust to them as a team.  But not only is the church a fellowship, flock and family, also . . . #4  The Church is a Body You are the Body of Christ–we are a Body, not a business.  We are an organism, not an organization.  So how does a body function?  The church functions on the basis of spiritual gifts, not on the basis of positions.  Read aloud with me Romans 12:4 to 6, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” What’s the point here?   Did you elect your hand?  No, it’s your hand because it’s gifted to grab and scratch.  Did you vote on your mouth?  Your mouth gets to be the mouth because it can chew–your hand can’t chew.  You didn’t select your eyes–your eyes are your eyes because their gifted to see.  You didn’t elect your nose–it’s your nose cause it smells.  Now granted, let’s be honest–sometimes your feet smell, and of course sometimes your nose runs.  So some of you are built upside down. No, your body parts function as they do because they’re gifted to do what they do, not because you chose them.  Now this is a radically simple point.  With every gift comes the authority to use it.  We don’t elect people–if they’re gifted to do it, they’re it.  If you have the gift of teaching, you’re authorized to teach.  Or the gift of mercy, you’d better be caring for the hurting.  Paul said no man authorized me to preach, God gifted me.  If you have the God-given ability, you’re supposed to use it. Yes, there are other considerations.  Obviously you need to demonstrate you’re a faithful servant first–plus a man or woman of character.  Some gifts require proven-ness, and certain roles need maturity and affirmation from the Body.  There are areas that require training and observation, and you can disqualify yourself by continuing in unrepentant, defiant sin.  Plus we need to know if you’re one heart one mind with us as a family.  But we are to function the way God made us. The Bible says if you are gifted, you do it.  If you don’t know how you are gifted, the only way is to start faithfully serving, and God and the church will show you.  It’s simple . . . If you think you are a leader, look behind you, and if no one is following you, you’re not a leader.  As the proverbs says, He that thinketh he leadeth but have no one following him is only taking a walk. If you think you’re a giver, but you rent an extra storage facility to keep all your junk that doesn’t fit in your garage, you might want to rethink your giftedness, cause givers give stuff away. If you think you’re a teacher, but no one changes to be more like Christ, or everyone falls asleep while you teach, you’re not a teacher. If you think you’re an administrator, but your closet is a disaster, you’re off–but if all your shoes are lined up by color and style, then you might be an administrator, or mentally sick. If you think you are the compassionate mercy person, but those you visit in the hospital want to die after you leave, that’s not you. God is the one who graces His children with spiritual gifts–1 Corinthians 12:11 says “distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”  The spirit designed it this way, in order to allow people to serve.  At FBC, you can serve in many roles without being a member, but become a member today and you can minister to others tomorrow–why, because the church is a Body, an organism. When “organization” is stressed, “maintenance” becomes the focus in the church.  But when spiritual gifts are stressed, as in an “organism”, “ministry” becomes the focus.  At FBC we stress ministry, not maintenance.  Ministry is the process of changing lives.  Maintenance is merely keeping the wheels moving.  That’s why we discourage a lot of administrative meetings, because you can’t disciple your family, share the Gospel with your neighbor, or use your gift when you’re in meetings four nights a week.  As one poet wrote, “Mary had a little lamb, it would have been a sheep, but it joined a local church one day, and died from lack of sleep. •At Faith Bible Church we have a simple approach, so we maximize ministry and minimize maintenance.  Pastor-teachers equip the saints for the work of ministry–we equip you, you work.  We feed, you serve.  We train, you disciple. •The Pastors are the “Facilitators of Ministry” •The People are the “Ministers” It’s not the elders’ job to do the ministry, but it’s the elders’ job to make certain the ministry gets done by equipping you.  At FBC, if you say, “I want to have a ministry to the military” . . . or fix cars, or reach out to street kids, and you are a member, we’ll say, “Great, you’re it!”  Again, there are some conditions, but we want your gifts and passions to shine for God’s glory.  And here is our guarantee–if you do the ministry as God commands you, we will make sure you’re well fed as God commands me.  Deal? So what does it mean to be a member at FBC?  The difference between “attender” and “member” can be summed up in one word:  commitment.  An attender is a consumer–and by the way, that’s okay for a time.  It is good for you to come here and heal.  It is okay for you to check us out for a time.  If you’ve been hit, hurt, worked over–this is a place for you to get healthy.  But like any good hospital, we are going to encourage you to get out of bed, get back to work and become a contributor.  Healthy Christians and healthy churches are filled with people who’ve graduated from wearing a bib to wearing an apron–from being a consumer to a contributor.  And a true member is declaring, “I’m no longer merely a consumer, I’m now a contributor.” We need a membership process in order to . . . enjoy the confidence children and adults are being taught truth know every bible study RMG is following the Word cultivate unity, without demanding uniformity move ahead together in one heart and one mind We care about functioning members because Christ is committed to His Church, and the Church kept track of its own.  In 1 Timothy 5 they kept a list of widows, in Acts 2 they knew how many were baptized, and in Acts 6 they knew what needs were not being met.  We care about being one heart one mind because it is the only way we can demonstrate the Godhead–each uniquely different yet one. We want to know who the members are, because it identifies who we’re responsible to care for, who we can count on, and who is one heart and one mind with our doctrine and direction.  Membership frees us to allow new ministry to blossom, and it assists every Christian in being obedient to God’s multiple commands for committed involvement to a local body.  So here are some challenges from today . . . One  Come to Christ Cry out to Christ to forgive you and make you a part of His forever beloved family Two  Become Like Christ Learn the Word, dependently obey His Word, and serve with others who are doing the same–go for it Three  Serve in His Church You were created, then saved to function as a part of His Body–you will never know your purpose and real joy until you do Four  Join this Local Church, Become a Member God intends for every Christian to belong to a local church and be one heart one mind with them in doctrine and direction.  If this is your church, make a commitment to your family—become a member.  Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.