Recently, we talked about how important it is for us as a church to raise up new leaders. One of the immediate ways that we have begun to apply this is by giving some of our members, who are particularly gifted theologically, the opportunity to write about something that God has been doing or challenging them with in their life. Thus each Friday we will have a time called “Free For All Friday” that will cover a variety of topics and will feature guest writers from our team here at Mercy Hill.
Guest writer Tony Ross.
Healthy Christians Are Healthy Church Members
A plumbline of Mercy Hill Church is “Discipleship happens in community.” Being a disciple of Jesus means, we are, as Jesus puts it, “born again”. A new creation where our old life has been brutally and gloriously nailed to the cross, and a new life created to joyful walk in submission to Jesus in holiness daily.
One of the beautiful things about this most amazing Gospel, is the community Jesus established at the cross. When we were born again, we were instantly born into a specific community. One of Holy Spirit regenerated, empowered and encouraged believers who are all “working out their salvation with fear and trembling”, together. This is more than a community though, it’s a family. And as Christian’s we are responsible for the stewardship of both our extended family (worldwide Church) and our immediate family (local church). While they both seem separate, they both influence the health of each other.
I personally have been challenged with the notion that there is something more than just showing up to collect my spiritual paycheck on Sundays. This was confirmed when I recently read a book by Thabiti Anyabwile (try saying that 5x’s fast) called “What is a Healthy Church Member?”. I found myself both challenged and encouraged by this book and I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts as they relate to our spiritual health both personally and corporately.
1. “Churches grow as they organize their lives around God’s Word.”
The only way we walk as Christians, is how we listen and talk to God daily. Theologians have called it many things: communing with God, personal relationship with God, etc. I like to say, “Walk the Talk.” If we claim to be a Christians, we better be backing that up with personal alone time with our Savior. That includes spending less time watching re-runs and more time submitting and conforming our hearts to God and his mission as revealed in his Word.
As our lives are transformed by God’s Word, they are also simultaneously conformed to the image of Christ. As we begin to know Jesus, we will begin to love and serve Him as King. Our love for Him, will overflow into Gospel conversations and opportunities where other people will fall in love with Him too. And as us New Yorkers like to say: badda-boom-badda-bing: the Church grows. After all, his last words for us were to “Go…and make disciples of all nations.”
2. “A Healthy Christian is a healthy church member.”
Our spiritual health directly influences and is infused with our health as church members and more importantly, our health as a church. Growing in the knowledge of God from his Word, allows you to see the true condition of your heart. Seeing how God loved and served us on the cross, produces a willingness in our own hearts to do the same for other people. Relationships begin to form and are built on sacrifice and trust which shines light revealing hypocrisy and producing an authentic family. We begin to love praying and serving other people because we see how much we’ve been loved and served when God adopted us as sons and daughters on the cross.
One of the greatest ways we as church members can seek to meet the needs of others in is smaller settings where it’s easier to build relationships with other people. Pastor Bobby mentioned we’d be starting small groups in mid-August. This is one of the greatest ways I’ve grown spiritually in the last 2 years. If our church family is our immediate family, then our small group becomes our immediate-immediate family and a place where we experience both the joys and struggles of life. This is a healthy environment where we can intentionally grow and help strengthen relationships with others weekly.
3. “Being a healthy church member is 24/7/365.”
When you woke up today, did you make the conscience effort to breathe? No, it’s ludicrous to even think that. That’s the way we should be thinking about our spiritual condition as church members. It’s an active role where we seek to “meet the needs of the saints”. This can be seen in many ways and begins and is empowered by 2 primary influences. God’s Word and prayer. Prayer is communication with our 1st love. I couldn’t imagine not talking to my wife Tina for an entire day.
It would not only destroy our marriage but how else would I know not to put her nice cooking pans in the dishwasher. Likewise, we receive timely wisdom and instruction from God in prayer, not to mention we get the joy of interceding for others and asking of God what no other being in the universe could be asked of. We talk with our Father about anything and everything. Struggles, joys and just to enjoy spending time with the God of the universe.
Being a church member 24/7/365 also means regular attendance for our Sunday gatherings (and in the future- small groups). This should seem like more of an honor than an obligation. Rather than seeing Sunday gatherings as a time where we can chill and gossip about the latest headline, why don’t we use Sunday gatherings as a time to intentionally serve each other as Christ served us. I picked up on this by a friend of mine when I first got saved and it is one of the greatest ways I can use the gifts God has given me while also protecting myself from having a consumer based mentality. It also brings some of the greatest joys in the entire week.
4. The health thermostat is set by the men.
The level of spiritual maturity among men in the Church is at a dangerous level. Most men tend to be thermometers who mirror back the climate around them. As men called by God to be responsible for stewarding Christ’s Church and our homes, we ought to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat sets the spiritual climate rather than reflecting it back. A spiritually healthy man is more dedicated to serving and loving his family, church and neighbors than his dedication to Sportscenter. A man who is charged with the task in 1 Cor. 16:13 of being watchful, standing firm in the faith, acting like men and being strong.
A man who is charged in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus of being good soldiers of Christ by being leaders of the household and of the church. By being able to teach and train others in the faith. By leading in a strong, determined, faithful, sacrificial and grace-filled way as Jesus did for us. The spiritual health of a church is determined by the spiritual health of the men who have thick-skin on the outside and an understanding, attentive, servants warmth on the inside. A healthy church, is led by healthy Jesus-loving men who lead in a way that teaches others how to be healthy Jesus-lovers and in turn, healthy church members.