So, nobody wants to talk? Well, I’m nothing if not persistent. Like a bulldog hanging on to the pants leg of a peeping tom. Or in my case, a Chihuahua hanging on to my shorts. But that’s a story for another day. I’m thankful that Southside is a mission-minded church. We support missions in a multitude of ways, and the greatest thing that we do is give money. In the 8 years that I have served as pastor, we have given well over a million dollars to mission causes, and I am very proud of the fact that our 2015 Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions exceeded our $15,000 goal by over $7,000. Through our giving, we support thousands of missionaries around the world and in the U.S.A., and I pray that will continue to happen, but there is more to missions that giving. We do a lot of praying for our missionaries, too, but healthy churches do more. They go. They serve. And that is what we need to be doing.
Today I want to talk about the next two trends: the congregations have membership that matters; the members are evangelistically intentional.
What do you think this means? Membership that matters. Have you ever been in a club, and all you ever did was pay your dues so that you could maintain your membership? That isn’t membership that matters. You want your affiliation to mean something – to you and to others. Lots of people today don’t feel that it’s necessary to join a church. Right now at Southside, we probably have 20 people attending our services regularly that have never joined our church. Some of them have been doing it for years. Why is that? I’m sure there are lots of reasons, but membership matters. For instance, you cannot serve in our church unless you are a member. Why do we do that? Accountability. If you don’t care enough about our church to join, why would you want to serve? Membership is about belonging to a family, and when you are a member of a family, there are responsibilities as well as privileges. Membership matters in a healthy church. We have expectations. Things that we expect you to be and do as a member of Southside. And our members have expectations of each other – to love and pray for one another.
But those expectations don’t stop there. Members of healthy churches are intentionally evangelistic. In other words, they tell people the good news of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what evangelism is. It isn’t about inviting people to church or talking about what a great music program we have. It is telling people how to be saved from their sins. And when that is not happening, could it be that the church is not as healthy as it should be? And no amount of preaching, teaching, or planning can change that. Only the Spirit of God moving in our hearts motivating us to do what we have been called to do will change that. But He only moves in our hearts when we surrender to His will. So if you haven’t been telling people about Jesus, ask yourself this question: am I truly submitting my life to serve the God who loves me and who has saved me? If not, surrender to Him today.