(ABC of Church membership)
“For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). This baptism is spiritual. It means we have been immersed into Christ by the Spirit ( 1 Cor. 12:13). So we go by the name of Christ (2 Cor. 6:15). Christ Jesus has become our identity. God sees us in Christ (1 Cor.6:17). The local church is the physical representation of this spiritual reality.
The word “church” was used 118 times in the bible. Now, 14 of these usages were references to the Body of Christ (the church at large) which is spiritual in nature. The other mentions refer to the local church. Emphasis was laid more on the local church than on the global church. The local church is what gives shape to the body of Christ. The local church gives credence to the body of Christ. You are not said to be a true member of the Body of Christ until you are a member of a local church. A believer cannot grow spiritually without being a member of a local church no matter how he studies the bible. Why? Because it affords him to not only hear the Word but also trained to do the Word. The purpose of hearing the Word is acting on the Word. Ministry is the end result of being well taught. It is in a local church that you are sharpened and shaped into what God has called you to be. We don’t outgrow spiritual growth. Maturity is not a permanent status, it’s an ongoing process.
We have been looking at the ABC of church membership in this series. We stopped at the letter M in part 3. Let’s examine what the letters N to S stand for.
N- Nurture others spiritually – This is otherwise known as discipleship. Jesus said after His resurrection “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age ( Matt. 28:19-20 NET). This is an express instruction from the Head of the Church to us all. We have been instructed to nurture young believers and new converts. You follow them up closely by teaching them what you are being taught (2 Tim. 2:2). What you consistently teach others becomes part and parcel of your life. Also, the local church grows numerically through the culture of discipleship.
O- Organize your activities around your membership – This should not be done the other way round. Your membership activities come before your personal activities. Learn to prioritise spiritual activities. A serious member church does not attend the meetings of his local church because he has some spare time, he attends as a matter of duty and commitment. It is worth noting that some believers close their businesses i.e. shops, and chambers once it is time for midweek bible study. No meeting called by your local church is optional. The early church in the book of Acts met daily! No wonder they were attuned to spiritual things. Deacons preached and healed the sick. Ananias, a disciple without a title was available to minister to Saul who was later called Paul after his dramatic spiritual encounter on the way to Damascus. Efficiency in ministry stems from consistency in attending your local church meetings.
P-Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) – A simple instruction yet powerful. The local church rests on the foundation of prayer and it is sustained by it. The New Testament teaches selfless and ceaseless prayer. Prayer and evangelism are not meant to be departments in a New Testament church, every member must be involved. We pray not because we feel like praying but because we have been commanded to do it. We pray for the salvation of the unsaved, the spiritual development of the saved and utterance and deliverance for the ministers of the Gospel. (I Tim 2:1-4; Rom 12:11-12; Col. 4:12; Eph. 6:18-19; Acts 6:4. I Cor. 14:18. II Thess.3: 1-2). Selfless prayer is the greatest type of prayer. Make sure you attend and participate in prayer meetings.
Q-Quest for improvement – The word “quest” suggests an overwhelming pursuit. Always seek to get better in your Christian walk and church membership. Get better at what you do, never get complacent in the local church. Complacency often leads to lethargy and apathy. Crave to outdo yourself in all that you do for the Lord.
R- Respect, Receive and Restore – A local church is not a place where we take each other for granted. There must be mutual respect. Do not take your relationship with people for granted. Church is a place for supernatural relationships. Always see it as a divine connection (Rom. 12:10; Eph. 5:21). Honor one another, love others genuinely, learn to receive from others. Be a good receiver, even when you feel the giver needs more, still receive what is offered. Have an attitude of gratitude. Restore those who have are caught in a fault/sin with understanding and maturity (Gal. 6:1). People change when see an affirmation of God’s love expressed by the brethren. These folks shouldn’t be avoided but restored. However, we avoid those who are rebellious to spiritual leadership and those whose lifestyle of sin is a public knowledge especially after they have been corrected.
S- Submit to Leadership – Never leave a local church because you were offended either by what the Pastor said or by what a fellow member did. Note this, the devil is after your church membership. Always seek to leave the right way. The right way is to exhaust the channels of resolving the matter as prescribed by the scriptures. If you must to leave, don’t bang the door because you may need to go through that door again. You are allowed to leave a local church for another on the grounds of lack of spiritual growth. We submit to leadership not because the leader is always right but because the bible instructs us to do so (Heb.13:17; II Cor. 8:5). Be transparent to your leader because evil and error thrive in secrecy.
…to be continued