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Members Who Build Up the Church

in Church/Membership/Ministry
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Every local church is comprised of a diverse group of people who have been radically transformed by the power of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. These diverse people have no reason to live and work together, let alone care for each other—and yet, they choose to live in love and unity together, to the praise and glory of the Lord’s name.

Healthy local churches make a powerful and attractive testimony to a watching world. This means that every member has to be devoted to building others up. In a future article, I will discuss four types of church member that don’t build up the church.

This article discusses six types of members that do build up the church.

1. The member who attends.

Attending is the most basic way members build each other up. It’s the most obvious way to show commitment to the body. There’s something encouraging about knowing a brother or sister is simply going to be present at a church service, and you are going to worship God together.

The writer of Hebrews tells the believers to “stir one another up to love and good deeds” and to “encourage one another.” How are they to do this? By “not forsaking the assembling of the believers” (Heb. 10:23–25). You cannot build others up if you’re not meeting with them regularly and faithfully. It’s therefore no wonder that those who are regularly absent from the gathering often stagnate in their faith or become members who primarily grumble and complain.

Dear church member, church meetings are not about you or your convenience. Build others up by faithful attendance.

2. The member who encourages.

Consider Paul’s words about Tychicus in Colossians 4: “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts” (Col. 4:8). Why does he send his friend? To encourage the Colossians. We should follow Paul’s model.

The encouraging member commends, recommends, praises, thanks, comforts, urges, supports, and compliments other members. We often think of encouraging as merely giving praise, like a spectator in the terraces. However, biblical encouragement is more than that; it’s a fellow teammate urging you to get to work.

Furthermore, encouragement is not mere flattery. It’s not just being nice or telling people what they want to hear. Rather, true encouragement is honest and sincere. It commends those who serve well, and it also urges those who are struggling in their walk with the Lord. Such kind of member is a great blessing to the body. Strive to be one.

3. The member who confronts without indulging gossip.

Churches are full of sinful people, which means church members sin against each other. This poses a challenge to the unity of the church, and it requires members to confront one another in love and gentleness.

The confronting member is the opposite of a gossip and slanderer. They obey the charge of Scripture to confront and restore people who are living in sin (Matt. 18:15–18, Gal. 6:1–2). What motivates the confronting member is not just that someone’s sin has offended them but that the Lord is offended by sin—particularly sin that is unresolved and left to fester and grow (1 Cor. 5). The confronting member confronts out of love for God and love for other believers.

4. The member who prays.

I’ve always been struck by Samuel’s statement to David: “Far be it from me that I may sin against you by not praying for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).

We have a responsibility to pray for each other. The best church members are devoted to prayer. They’ve learned to depend on God so they highly value praying to him. Typically, praying members learn to talk less to people and more to God about people. They’re a church’s unsung heroes. If prayer drives the church, then the praying member is essential to the health and growth of the church.

5. The member who serves.

Attendance is necessary, but members should do more than just attend. They should serve. They should  “do the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12). They use their gifts to serve God and other members, building up the church in the process.

Great encouragement comes from knowing you’re not the only one on the team. Great comfort comes from knowing you have teammates fighting with you and encouraging you as you go. People who are able to but don’t serve in the church tend to discourage the rest of the body.

6. The member who shows patience.

Patience is a vitally important both for the individual believer and the congregation as a whole. After all, the Christian life isn’t a sprint but a marathon. Our walk with the Lord is a process, and we won’t noticeably grow over night.

All this means we have to learn to endure with each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings. We have to learn to forgive without holding grudges and disciple one another with all patience. A patient member graciously puts up with other people’s failures. They realize that no church is perfect—and as a result, they are joyfully patient. A church with patient members is a church where members confront one another, encourage one another, confess sin to one another, and forgive each other.

CONCLUSION

Dear church member, pursue these qualities in your own life and encourage them in others. Pray for yourself and others. Pray that you will build up the church as faithful and patient members who attend, encourage, confront, pray, and serve. This builds up the church of Christ.

This article originally was written here.

Everyone Is a Prayer Novice

in Articles/Christianity
Praying Hands
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by Scott Boren –

Everyone is a prayer novice.

With that in mind, take a deep breath and relax. Let any pressure you feel about prayer or being spiritual roll off of you.

It does not matter if you are a brand new Jesus follower or if you have seen God work great miracles over decades. The difference between the two is microscopic when compared to the vastness of God. It’s like a grasshopper comparing itself with an ant. However, when you set both next to an elephant, the differences in size fall away.

Sometimes, we compare our prayers to those who seem so comfortable praying, using the right words, while referring to Scriptures and expressing themselves with passion and confidence. I remember praying with a few people years ago and voiced a short, somewhat tentative request. After we said our “amens” a guy in the group corrected my theology regarding my prayers. He told me that my prayers did not quite reflect what God was all about. I guess he was the grasshopper and I the ant.

Even if I am ant-sized prayer-er, what difference does it make? Why compare myself to others when we are trying to connect with the maker of the universe? Why take pride in my prayers when we are talking to the One who cannot be fully comprehended? When it comes to prayer, there are no experts. We are all novices trying to express the true voice of prayer in the midst of so many distracting false voices.

Henri Nouwen stated in one of his last books,

Prayer, then, is listening to that voice—to the One who calls you the Beloved. It is to constantly go back to the truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves. I’m not what I do. I’m not what people say about me. I’m not what I have. Although there is nothing wrong with success, there is nothing wrong with popularity, there is nothing wrong with being powerful, finally my spiritual identity is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in my spiritual identity. Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity.

The true voice of prayer brings us back to the place of hearing God’s true voice about our core identity. This is the message that we will not hear from the daily grind of the world, where we learn about how we must perform for our self-worth. We try to find life by seeking the false voices of power, prestige and possessions, the three great obsessions of our culture.

The false voice of power tells us that we can get life as we gain control over our situations and others. We look for ways to advance in authority and power to hold sway. Those with the most authority have greater value. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” not “Blessed are the strong and powerful.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

The true voice of prayer leads us on a path of giving up the pursuit of power, one that gives us permission to be weak instead of trying to cover up our limitations. On that path we hear the true voice saying, “My beloved, you are accepted just as you are.”

The false voice of prestige whispers that we need to be someone worthy of other’s attention. The people that matter have the public eye, or at least that seems to be the case. But prestige is only a limp replacement for what we long for in the core of our being. I love how The Message translates this passage by Paul:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The true voice of prayer leads us on a path of love that frees us to seek and see God. There we hear the true voice saying, “My beloved, you are loved with a love that cannot be greater.”

The false voice of possessions also challenges this path of connecting with God. Our culture tells us in more ways than one that those who die with the most toys do actually win somehow. We buy, we collect, and when we cannot buy and collect we wish we could. More is never enough because we are told that those who have the most matter the most.

Go back and read Paul’s words again about weakness, being nobodies, and being chosen by God to receive his love. The true voice of prayer frees us to let go and find treasures in another place than in possessions. We hear the true voice saying, “My beloved, you don’t need more. You don’t need to attain more. You don’t need to press more. I will take care of you.”

We are all novices, learning to express our true voice to God and hear God’s true voice to us. It’s a journey that we can never complete because God’s infinite love for us is, after all, infinite.

This article was originally written here.

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