Church Life

It would be easy to allow ourselves and others to get away with treating the church as if it’s designed simply to meet our own needs as spiritual consumers. In one sense, there’s nothing wrong at all with coming to church to get our needs met. Christians are not self-sufficient. The Christian life is to be lived out in community. God has met our most fundamental need by forgiving us of our sins when we repent of them and believe in Jesus Christ. We all need distinctively Christian fellowship, and we find a community of believers in the church. We need to hear good preaching and have encouraging conversations and be challenged in our faith, and there would be something wrong if we were not coming to church precisely in order to meet these spiritual needs. Yet if we are coming to church only as consumers, to get our own needs met, then we have missed the point of the church. We are not merely intended to get our needs met. We are intended to be part of God’s plan for drawing other people to Himself, for encouraging and building up those who are already His children. Each member is not simply intended to be a consumer. We are all intended to be providers. We are colaborers with God Himself in the work of the Gospel (1 Cor. 3:9)! Some of us may well be introverted or less talkative. But none of us are designed merely to be ministered to, as if the whole church revolved around our own felt needs and desires. We are all called to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Heb. 10:24; Gal. 6:2). Wise pastors and church leaders, then, will encourage people to take an outward-looking stance toward other members.

Look around at your church. Who’s sitting alone? Who has no one to talk with after the service is over and people are milling around? Go talk to that person and be an encouragement to him. Are there older members who could use a ride to church? Offer to pick them up and take them home. Exercise hospitality with singles or newlywed couples. Budget to take a visitor or new member to lunch once a month. Plan to meet people for lunch during the week to encourage them and build them up in their faith. Read a good Christian book with another believer. Point out evidences of God’s grace in other people’s lives—even if they’re only dim reflections of God’s character. Look for an area where the church could use more servants and pitch in, even if it’s not necessarily an area where you are particularly gifted to serve. The nursery is almost always a good place to start. Church bodies grow biblically when each individual part is doing its work and contributing proportionally. If you are a member of a local church, then you are part of God’s plan for the growth of that church (Eph. 4:11-16).

Alexander, Paul (2005-09-30). The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel . Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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