Summary: What types of Church Members can we see in the 21st century church and identify in Biblical Principles? This message suggests 5 different types.
Types of Church Members
Jude, Thessalonians, John, Corinthians, Ephesians, Peter
* Last Sunday evening, as a part of our testimony time, we heard Bro. J.D. give an emotional word about being a ‘lost church member.’ I know from private discussion that he existed as a lost church member for many years. His closing words were something like, “If there is a chance you may be a member of this church and not one who has trusted Christ, put your trust in Him today.” Think about & hold this thought – “Lost Church Member.”
* Those words permeated my thought, my heart, and my prayer life this week as I remembered those words of years past accredited to Billy Graham which said, “Approximately 70%-80% of church members are lost.” Candidly, as I prayed I was reminded of the concept that 20% of church members perform 80% of the ministry that 70% of members perform 20% of the ministry, and that 10 % of those who are church members that claim Christ do nothing. Additionally, as Steve Hale told us, close to 85% of churches in America are on the plateau or declining. Candidly, there is a problem, and it is not in the Whitehouse, it is in the church house.
* All of these truths cause me to ask an appropriate question (which I also ask of a Pastor/Evangelist Friend – Dan Lanier), “What types of church members exist?” Have you ever thought about it? Someone walks an aisle, goes through the Baptistery, and is a member – but what kind of a member is he or she? Let’s walk through some scripture & see what we might discover.
1. The Unsaved Church Member – This is the one that J.D. spoke of last week which, by his testimony, he was. It is a church member that I was. It is the church member that any one CAN BE. This is the person described in Jude. (Read verses 1-4, 8, 10, 12-13, 16). Look at the difference in focus.
Church member ONLY Christian (Believer) Church Christ Programs People Events Effects
As an unsaved church member, I knew something was not right. Honestly, I didn’t set out to be a ‘trouble maker’, but every time the pastor gave an invitation, I deeply felt something was not right and I was afraid to change.
* Here is what I know; a lost church member is a miserable person. And misery loves company. The Bible clearly says that some will come in by ‘stealth’, ‘unaware’, ‘privately’, or ‘unnoticed’.
* While some people may come and join a church to pervert or subvert, it seems to me that many lost people today come into a church unaware that they have not followed Christ. Because of the ease by which people are granted membership, it serves as an open door for one to join the church for all the wrong reasons.
* Some join for social reasons, others for family reasons, still others for business reasons, and others for any number of human reasons. A person who has not been drawn by the power of God, to the Son of God, for the forgiveness of God, and into the light of God has no standing before God except to say, “Lord, I’m a sinner, have mercy on me.”
* The text tells us that the lost church member turns the grace of God in to a license to sin. This means I can do what I want because God is a forgiving God. But to have this attitude is a clear sign that this person does not have the Spirit of God present in their life. Lost church members despise authority. Has there ever been a day in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ that everyone sees themselves as a “Chief?” The text goes on to say that lost church members ‘blaspheme anything they don’t understand.” A lost church member has the tendency to be against everything, not because it’s bad, but because he doesn’t understand it and is afraid of change. Verse 16 is almost comical to me. They are ‘discontented grumblers’ as opposed to ‘contented grumblers??” But what they do is show what is in their hearts by what comes out of their mouths.
* The bad news is this; yes, lost church members exist. I was one. Others give the same testimony. The good news is; God is reaching down to change the lost church member at the heart level.
2. The Unengaged Church Member – Many will say, “I know who this is! Old Joe used to be here all the time and he hasn’t been to church in years.” Obviously, they are speaking of the person whom we call, inactive. Surely they are unengaged, but let’s keep our thought inside the building. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 5. “Warn the lazy”. Ouch. Different translations render this word as idle, disorderly, unruly, not living right, and those who do not work. It is only used by Paul in the letters to Thessalonica. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 3. Every believer in Christ is called to do their part in the church.