I remember how absolutely relieved and happy I was when I saw my name on the final roster sheet posted in the locker room. I “made the cut.” High school basketball tryouts were over, the team was set, and my name was on that life-changing list. I ran into the equipment room and was given my practice jersey, my locker assignment and key, and my uniform. I was a member of the Coopersville Bronco Basketball Team.
Now the real work was about to begin: grueling conditioning drills, weight room sessions, summer camps, travel, games, film study, scrimmages, practice, practice, and more practice. But all of this was part of my role—my responsibility as a team member. All of that was just what was expected of anyone who was a member of the Coopersville Bronco Basketball Team, and without accepting that, my place on the team would have been insignificant, actually, it would have been non-existent. And I’d have been a detriment to the team.
Now let’s consider just what should be expected of anyone who is a member of the Fellowship Reformed Church Ministry Team. Whoa, am I really going to go there? I know that the very notion that church members bear significant responsibilities comes as a surprise to far too many. But responsibility and church membership go hand in hand, you really can’t have one without the other. The Education/Discipleship Team is currently working along with Pastor Shawn and the Consistory on a “membership/discipleship covenant” that will help all of our members understand and carry out their roles as members of God’s team here at FRC. The outline for our plan comes primarily from a highly endorsed book written by Rev. Thomas Rainer entitled, “I Am a Church Member.” Rev. Rainer summarizes the Bible’s teaching on the responsibilities of membership through a series of pledges:
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’s leaders.
5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members.
6. I will treasure church membership as a gift.
For our purposes today, let’s consider only pledge number one, “I will be a functioning church member.” In this pledge we’re reminded that: “Because we are members of the body of Christ, we must be functioning members, and as functioning members, we will give. We will serve. We will minister. We will evangelize. We will study. We will seek to be a blessing to others. We will remember that if one member suffers, all the members suffer together. And if one member is honored, all the members rejoice together. (1 Cor. 12:26) And that’s just what is expected of anyone who is a member of The Church—God’s Team.
I didn’t try out for the basketball team just so I could wear the uniform and get my name and picture in the yearbook. No athlete joins a team hoping to “sit the bench,” and none of us should be satisfied just to ”fill a pew.” God has gifted us all with unique personalities and abilities that are designed to work perfectly together with the other personalities and abilities that make up His church. And we’ve all been commissioned to be functioning members, because if we’re not, our place on the team is insignificant, non-existent, and actually detrimental to its success.
No athlete becomes a member of a team hoping to never play. Church membership is far more important than any sports team. But regrettably, many members of the church team, are content to do little more than wear the uniform.
As church members, Jesus has called us to get off the bench and get into the game
As members of Fellowship Reformed Church, we need to take seriously the reality that we are jointly responsible for whether or not the congregation continues to faithfully proclaim the Gospel. That means that we are jointly responsible for both what our church teaches, and how well we are actually carrying out our mandate. Let’s make sure that on that future day when we stand before God and give an account of how well we’ve fulfilled His Great Commission, our hearts will overflow with joy as the Lord praises us on a job “well done.”
Written by Jim De Horn