I have recited my childhood church’s covenant so many times that I’ve practically memorized the entire thing. Every 1st Sunday we’d recite this seemingly pointless dissertation of vows and promises to abstain from excessive drinking, gossiping, and “back-biting”. We’d vow to aid one another in sickness and distress, to cover one another in prayer, to aid with the relief of the poor and on and on we’d vow on personal, corporate and spiritual levels.
Most people who grew up in church are familiar with this practice and it can become easy to not pay attention to what we’re really committing to when we read said covenant. Despite our apathy and routines, we have responsibilities as church members and they are crucial for the health of the Body of Christ and ourselves. Plus they are highly important to God.
My godbrother (who has a really dope site of his own. Check out builttobrag.com AFTER you finish this post of course!) has a huge heart for the Church. I took my little sister to look at some colleges on the East Cost back in March and while we were there, we visited our godbrother and his family. We were able to attend his church in Washington, D.C. called Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He warned us of the culture shock we were going to experience and I will say, it was verrrrry verrrrrry different, but at the same time so refreshing!
There was quiet time for reflection throughout the service, there were no drums or other loud competing instruments, it was quiet, thoughtful, and gospel-infiltrated from beginning to end. We only sang hymns (the real DEEP hymns I’d never heard of and hadn’t the slightest clue of their accompanying melodies), we never once clapped or danced or even swayed. Heck! I don’t even think I ever tapped my toes! And you definitely weren’t gonna catch anyone shouting an “Amen!” or a “Preach Brotha!”
As I looked around the jam packed sanctuary, I saw all types of people, “hood looking” dudes with snapbacks and baggy pants, “well-off” families, college students, older couples, young couples…I mean, you name a person, they were represented. On top of that, the room was packed! Literally people were standing around the back of the balcony because there weren’t enough seats.
Another interesting thing is that although the church was out of room, my godbrother told me that the pastor had no intentions of expanding or adding extra services to fit the need! His desire is to filter people into church plants. Now where in the world have you ever heard that from a pastor?
One last thing to blow your mind: This church didn’t have any ministries! No women’s ministry, no church announcements sharing details about choir rehearsal, Annual “Take Your Pick of the Occasion” Day, or praise dance practice! My. Mind. Was. Blown.
Having grown up in church all my life, and being a pastor’s kid at that, I had TONS of questions for my godbro after church. How could a church so unorthodox and so different from what I’ve grown to understand as “normal church,” leave me so refreshed and encouraged? Nobody even shouted or clapped!
Most of the things I thought were needed to constitute a great church or church service were missing from this church, yet this church was refreshingly healthy and growing!
You could sense the community in the room. After church was over, hardly anyone left! It was like everyone just got up and began speaking to each other and they stayed…for a long time! Hundreds of people hanging out with each other after church! They weren’t rushing out before the benediction to beat the crowd, or rushing home to get dinner ready…they were checking in on each other as a church family.
Anyway, after all of this, I must’ve had the most shocked, confused, amazed look on my face. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was experiencing. My godbrother gave me these two books to help me understand his church a bit more and 9 months later, I finally knew it was time to read one of them. It’s called “What is a Healthy Church Member?” by Thabiti M. Anyabwile.
I was debating how in depth to make this post because the small book is inconspicuously so rich, but I’ve decided to just leave you with the outline and my reason for even writing a blog about it. I feel I would be going against the entire premise of the book if I’d just read it and shared nothing about it.
So! The book covers 10 areas or “Marks” that identify a healthy church member. A healthy church member is:
1. An Expositional Listener
2. A Biblical Theologian
3. Gospel Saturated
4. Genuinely Converted
5. A Biblical Evangelist
6. A Committed Member
7. A Seeker of Discipline
8. A Growing Disciple
9. A Humble Follower
10. A Prayer Warrior
When I tell you every chapter is SOOO good, I really mean it. After reading this, I have a heightened understanding of what it means to be a Christian who is faithful to the local church. Not only that, but if you read it, you will understand how faithful commitment to the local church expands the Kingdom of God even OUTSIDE of the church.
When we become unified, faithful and committed as church members, we are better able to represent Christ to those who are against God or organized religion.
Choosing to commit to being healthy church members aids in our ability, effectiveness, and credibility as witnesses and followers of the gospel.
So here’s the point of me sharing. It’s explained quite perfectly in the book, by a guy named Jerry Bridges:
For many years I took an individualistic approach to the Christian life. I was concerned about my growth as a Christian, my progress in holiness, my acquisition of ministry skills… I asked God’s blessing on my church and the Christian organization I worked for. But as I learned more about true fellowship, I began to pray that we as the Body of Christ would grow in holiness, that we would be more effective witnesses to the saving grace of Christ. It is the entire Body—not just me—that needs to grow.
So with a “pleading heart, desiring that the Lord of the church might supernaturally awaken each of His saints to serve in extraordinary ways,” I strongly suggest this book to you. I’d even encourage you to get together with some friends or family from your church and dive into this thing together. Suggest it to your pastors as a sermon or Bible study series! It even has a complimenting book called, “What is a Healthy Church?”
I will be discussing these things with some fellow church members (already started actually!) and I’d encourage all believers to do the same!
Lets grow in faith, love, hope and strength as the beautiful Body—the Church—by the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.