Hey, guys, thank you for sharing my blog post yesterday. I don’t know if I shamed some of you into doing it or not, but thank you. Please keep sharing and liking the posts, and follow me if you would like. Now, to the business at hand.
We have looked at four of the pledges from Dr. Thom Rainer’s book I am a Church Member. These four had to do with being functioning, uniting, unselfish, and praying for church leaders. Today we will examine the last two pledges, and I believe that these may be the most important of the six when it comes to the future of the church. Too many times I have heard the words, “I can’t make my children go to church. They have to make their own decisions.” Or the ever present, “Well, it won’t hurt if we skip church this one Sunday.”
Let me deal with these two statements one at a time. The problem with allowing your children to decide whether to go to church or not is that children aren’t equipped to make the best decisions for themselves. Let me give you a couple of examples. First, you take them to the doctor and he tells them they need to have their vaccinations (whether you believe in vaccinating your children or not, this illustration still works). So do you let your child decide whether or not he will take the shot? I don’t think so. Or your child tells you, “I’m only going to eat ice cream for dinner from now on.” Do you go down to Kroger’s and buy out all the Breyer’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream? I don’t think so. And neither should you let them make this decision. Dr. Rainer’s pledge says this: “I will lead my family to be healthy church members.” This is important to the future of the church. The key word in this is “lead.” The Bible says that we “train up our children in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will never depart.” Combine these two things and you come away with the appropriate understanding. We must model these behaviors over and over again until it becomes second nature. We must commit to lead our families to be good members of the church by praying together, worshipping together, and serving together in our church. Here is the key: we must ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church because He gave His life for her. Most of these are Dr. Rainer’s words, and he is right on the money. Our problem is that we haven’t truly fallen in love with the church. If we have, our children will fall in love with the church.
I use my children as examples all the time because I am very proud of them. In a day when many preacher’s kids refuse to go to church once they have left home because they have witnessed the worst possible behaviors of church members, have seen their parents verbally attacked over and over again, and have suffered those attacks as well, my girls are both faithful members serving in their churches. Why? Because we trained them up in the way they should go and taught them what it means to love the Church universal even when the local church might let them down. And I cannot for the life of me understand when a parent says, “I can’t make my child do….” Really? When I’m 90 years old and have lost most of my bodily functions, I guarantee you that when I tell my girls to do something they will do it. Not because they have to, but because they want to, and they will want to because they love and respect me and know that I love and respect them, too.
Now, about that skipping church thing — this is a real pet peave of mine. I don’t believe that there is ever an excuse for missing church unless you have a job that requires you to work on Sunday or are extremely ill or taking care of someone who is extremely ill. “But Preacherman,” you will say, “don’t I deserve a vacation every now and then.” Why sure you do, but not from church or God. He doesn’t take a vacation from us. “But Preacherman, my children are athletes and lots of their games are on Sundays.” So? What are your priorities? That is what you are teaching them when you skip church. You are saying to them that whatever we are doing instead of church is more important than going to church. You may actually believe that, but as a Christian, your heart should long for the fellowship of worship. It is in worship that we are encouraged and empowered to do what God has called us to do. And, we are commanded by God through Paul to “…not forsake the assembling of ourselves together….” Our problem is that we don’t grasp the concept of Dr. Rainer’s final pledge. I will treasure church membership as a gift. We don’t see church membership as “…a gift. When [you] received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, [you] became a part of the body of Christ.” You were adopted into His family, and when you are adopted into a family, you want to be part of who they are and what they are doing. The same is true for church membership. Dr. Rainer closes the pledge like this: “And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something much greater than anyone person or member.” This is the kind of commitment we need if we are going to be a part of the great spiritual awakening that our nation needs. Will you join me in making this commitment? I hope so.
See you Sunday!