I Am a Church Member {A Book Review}

I recently read two fantastic books on church membership: I am a Church Membership by Thom Rainer and What is a Healthy Church Member by Tabiti Anyabwile. Until I read these books, I really hadn't thought too deeply about the implications of church membership except that I knew it is was important and that "it is imperative that I be involved and serve where I am able to." However, after reading these books, I am more convinced than ever of a few things: 

Church is a big deal. 
Going to church is a big deal. 
Being a church member is a big deal. 

And if these things aren't a big deal to you, if you're a believer, they should be.

With a whopping 79 pages, I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer is hardly more than a beefed-up pamphlet. However, it makes up for its size by providing a concise and practical discussion of what it means to be "a member of the Body of Christ", and more specifically, "a member of the local church." 

Because Rainer refers to these two ideas almost interchangeably, I believe it would be accurate to say that the primary presupposition of this book is that because every believer in Jesus Christ is a member of the spiritual Body of Chris, every believer should become a part of the physical gathering of the Body of Christ--the local church--by becoming a member.

In other words, Rainer assumes that a believer should not be content to simply be a part of the universal Body of Christ; Scripture has a lot to say about the functioning of believers with each other in the context of the local church. 
But what should be our mindset about being a church member? Is this just a technicality that really "committed" Christians do? Is it an admissions ticket to special privileges when we attend church? Does it bring us greater favor with God? Is this an issue of earning our salvation? It is just for the sake of the church leaders to be able to report a growth in numbers? Isn't membership just an old-fashioned idea that people did in generations past?

I would say no, no, no, and NO!! Being a church member isn't about any of these things!

If it isn't about any of those thing, then what is it all about? What are the Scriptural reasons for why a believer should become a member of the local church that they attend? 

Answering this question is the purpose of I am a Church Member. In this little book, Rainer endeavors to help us gain a better grasp of the importance of membership by discussing what it means to be a member and what it does not mean. In doing so, Rainer outlines six key attitudes every believer should have concerning his responsibilities as a church member. (Again, Rainer assumes that if you are a believer, you have taken the step of becoming a member of your local church. So while every believer is a member of the Body of Christ, the particular attitudes discussed here are set within the context of the local church.)  

While clearly this is not an exhaustive list, here are six key attitudes Rainer argues that every church member should have: 
    1. I will be a functioning church member 
    2. I will be a unifying church member 
    3. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires 
    4. I will pray for my church leaders 
    5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members 
    6. I will treasure church membership as a gift 
Key to this entire discussion of being a church member is the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, where Paul lays out the comparison of the physical body having different members and the spiritual Body of Christ having different members. Each body, then, is in desperate need of each member to likewise do its part in order for the body to function properly. 

While in the broader sense this passage does apply to the universal Church, the Body of Christ (the collective group of people made up of all believers around the world), the specific application of this passage does seem to be for the local church, for at the very end of this passage, Paul makes mention of specific roles--roles that are set within the local church. While one could argue that "we are all working together, around the world, using our different gifts to further the cause of the Gospel" it truly is in the context of the local church that we see most clearly the various giftings of each believer: Susie loves teaching the children's Sunday School class; John brings encouragement to the the sick and elderly; Amanda serves in the area of hospitality; Joe is particularly gifted in the area of preaching; Jennifer finds joy in keeping the church bathrooms and foyer spotless. 

Yes, God has given each individual believer something to contribute towards the edifying and building up of the body of believers in the local body.   

I appreciate the simplicity, directness, and practicality of this book.  

So if church isn't a big deal to you or if church is a big deal to you, either way, I am a Church Member will grow your understanding of why the church is so unique and why ever believer should make it a priority to be an intentional part of a local church body! 


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