Does membership matter?

RobDevotions

Every now and then I’ll have someone still ask me if membership really matters. It’s a fair question, especially in light of living in a culture where clearly it does not.

I mean, think about this with me for a moment.How many things are you a member of whether loosely or officially, where it really makes little or no difference in your life?

1.    Blockbuster Video’s Award Club

2.    Your neighborhood Association

3.    Starbuck’s Card

4.    Qdobas 10 meal get one free club

5.    Sam’s Club

6.    Cosco

7.    The ‘Y’ (truth hurts doesn’t it?)

8.    The Republicans

9.    The Democrats

10. The Independents

Do I need to keep going? People are asking us to join EVERYTHING these days, but a quick glance at all of the things most of us are members of doesn’t exactly invoke Braveheart like passion, does it?

So now the church comes along and tells you that membership matters and believe me, I understand why you’re a little skeptical. Membership in most anything else simply doesn’t! So, give me a few brief moments of your time and I will tell you why I couldn’t disagree more with those who think membership is unimportantBasically people, there are several things that membership does. They are said about as well as I’ve ever heard them put by Rick Warren who wrote, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Please click the “more” button and continue reading to learn more about why I believe membership in the local church is more important today than ever!

Basically people, there are several things that membership does. They are said about as well as I’ve ever heard them put by Rick Warren who wrote, “The Purpose Driven Life.”

1. IT HELPS ME FOCUS ON GOD

Do you find it easy to get distracted? I do. It’s easy to lose your focus. I find it easy to go all day and not even think about God even though I’ve been a Christian for many years. I could either be having so much fun that I forget God or I could have so much work I could forget God. God knows that we have a tendency to lose our focus. When He gave the Big Ten (The Ten Commandments) one of them was “Every seventh day, refocus.” That’s called worship. Whenever you refocus on God and express your love to God, you’re worshipping. It helps me focus on God.

 

2. IT HELPS ME FACE LIFE’S PROBLEMS

Everybody’s going to agree that life is tough. You’re either in a problem right now, or you just came out of a major problem, or you’re getting ready to go into a major problem. Because life is simply a series of problems. As a result we all get discouraged, tired, fatigued, drained.

God never meant for you to go through life all by yourself, all alone. He wants you to have a church family for support. “Jesus died for us so that we can live together with Him. So encourage each other and give each other strength.” The Christian life is not a solo act. We draw strength from each other. This is called fellowship, the second purpose of the church. Worship and fellowship. That’s where we support each other. It’s like the really old illustration every pastor uses of a campfire. If you’ve got a campfire with a whole bunch of hot coals in it, they’re all keeping each other hot. If you take one coal out of the campfire, set it by itself, it grows cold. It loses its heat and it eventually goes out. If you take the coal and put it back in the campfire, it gets warm again.

If you don’t have contact with other Christians, other believers, on a consistent basis, your heart’s going to grow cold. You’re going to burn out inside. You’re going to go dead spiritually. You need the contact with other people to give you the lift, to give you the encouragement, to help you keep going. The Bible says the church is an extended family. “You should be like one big happy family full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts.” As I said earlier, the Christian without a family is an orphan.

Romans 12 “In Christ, we who are many, form one body each member belongs to all the others.” If you are a Christian, if you are a follower of Christ, you don’t just belong to God. You belong to every other Christian. The other people setting on your row who are believers, you belong to them. They belong to you and I belong to you and you belong to me. We’re in this family. We need each other. God says, I want you to help each other, support each other, encourage each other. At Saddleback church, our primary program for helping people feel connected is not the services. You could come to services for five years and never really meet anybody. The program that helps you feel connected and feel a part of the family is our network of small groups. We have them meeting every day of the week – mornings, afternoons, evenings, in offices, homes, restaurants. We have women only groups, men only groups, couples only groups. We have groups for every age, interest, shape, size, color, background,, whatever you can think of. There are groups for every type of person.

3. IT HELPS ME FORTIFY MY FAITH

“Fortify” means “to strengthen, to develop, to reinforce.” We have breakfast cereals that are fortified with vitamins. Twinkies that are fortified so we can eat them without guilt! Pop Tarts that are fortified with Vitamin A so we can say they’re health food. It means something has been reinforcedThat’s what a church family does. It helps you clarify your values. It helps you set your priorities. It helps you figure out, “What do I really believe?” A church family helps me develop character, conviction, integrity. If you don’t have a church family where do you think you’re going to get those kind of things? Figuring out what you believe… developing conviction and character. God says a church family is designed to help you fortify your faith.

Hebrews 6:1 “Let us go on and become mature in our understanding as strong Christians ought to be.” Probably as a pastor, the question I’m asked more often than any other question is the one, “How do I know God’s will for my life? How do I know what God wants me to do?” God wants you to grow up. He wants you to mature. He doesn’t want you to be a 98 pound spiritual weakling, a spiritual wimp.

 

4. IT HELPS ME FIND MY MINISTRY

You weren’t put on earth just to take up space. God expects you to give something back. He expects you to make a contribution with your life. He gave you certain abilities, talents, gifts, background that He expects you to use to help other people. Any time you use your talents or what you know to help somebody else we call that ministry. A non ministering Christian is a contradiction. You were made for ministry. One day you are going to stand before God and He’s going to say, “What was your ministry? What did you do on earth to give back, to make a contribution?” It’s our job to help you discover and develop your ministry.

Ephesians 2:10 “We are God’s masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the things do the things He planned for us long ago.” Before you were even born, God planned your ministry. He planned why He was putting you on this earth for contribution. You’re not a mistake. The Bible says here we are God’s masterpiece. Circle that word. The new Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word for masterpiece is the word poiema. It’s the word we get “poem” from. You’re a word of art. You’re one of a kind. There’s nobody else like you. If you don’t be you, nobody’s going to take your place. You would be missed. You’re the part of the jig saw puzzle that would be missing. You are a masterpiece. There’s nobody else like you.

God planned you before you were born. Your parents may have not planned you but God did. They may think that you were an accident. But you weren’t any accident. I’m not saying your parents are good parents. They may have been crudy parents. But God knew the exact two people it would take to make the DNA gene mixture to make you and He allowed those people to get together so you could be made. It could have been a rape. But God made you. The Bible says He designed you. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth, He knew the two people who would have just the right gene mixture that would make you. He wanted you on this earth for a purpose, for a ministry. Then He says, “I want you to make your life count.”

“There are different kinds of service but together you form the body of Christ and each one of you is a necessary part.” I talk to so many people today who feel unnecessary. They feel insignificant. They feel, “My life just doesn’t matter.” They spend thousands of dollars on therapy, tapes, books, seminars to build up their self esteem by some kind of self-help psychology. Those books all say the same thing: If you don’t feel good about yourself, start telling yourself you’re good. “I’m great! People like me!” But that stuff doesn’t work because inside you’re saying, “I’m not so great.” You’re just kidding yourself.

The secret of self esteem is not running around all the time trying to tell yourself that you’re great. The secret to self esteem is this: figure out what God made you to be and be it. Find your ministry and do it. Then you’ll be saying, “This is what I’m here for.” You see your value. As a Christian you were made for ministry. If you’re a believer, ministry is not optional.

 

5. IT HELPS ME FULFILL MY LIFE MISSION

This is different that your ministry. God says, “I built the church to help you focus on God and face life’s problems and fortify your faith, find your ministry and fulfill your mission. There is a grand purpose for your life. You were put on the earth for a reason God chose when you were born. He chose exactly where you were born. He chose exactly how you would be born. All of these things you had no control over because He was making you for a mission. He created you for a purpose. God says, “I want you to fulfill it.” The moment you trust Jesus Christ, God activates your life mission.

“The most important thing is that I complete my mission the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to tell people the good news about God’s grace.” Part of your life mission is called the Great Commission – telling other people the good news. Someone told you and you’re supposed to pass it on.

“Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved but how can they believe if they’ve never heard? And how can they hear unless someone tells them?” That makes sense. There is no greater accomplishment than leading somebody to Christ, leading them to Jesus. You are a believer because somebody cared enough to tell you. Who have you cared enough to tell? Who have you cared enough to tell the Good News about Christ that all your sins can be forgiven. You can have a home in heaven, you can have powerful living right now. These are available if you accept Christ into your life. He came to earth for you.

Ok, pastor Rob (and Rick) — you convinced me. But…How do I join a church family?

This is what they did in the book of Acts: “They were baptized and they joined the other believers, they worshiped together regularly at the Temple and met in small groups in homes for communion.” There are four keys to feeling a part of a church family:

First, be baptized. Become a part of the family. Join the church. Join the other believers. Then worship together regularly. Then meeting small groups in homes. How many of these steps have you taken? My challenge to you in ’07 is take the next step. Whatever that is for you – take the next step. Some of you need to give your life to Christ. You need to take CLASS 101. Some of you have already done that. You need to be baptized. Take the next step. Some of you need to go on to CLASS 201 to develop the habits for the Christian life. Then go on to CLASS 301. Some of you need to sign up for CLASS 401 – Discovering My Life Mission. Because you’ve done the other steps. Do it today.

 

No, really, TODAY (well, almost today). Actually, we have a membership class this Sunday (as in tomorrow) from 3:30 -7:30. Dinner is provided and you can come and learn all about SCC and our unique mission. At the end of our time together you will be given the opportunity to join the Southbrook family as a brand new member.

 

 

You won’t be sorry!