6 Covenants of a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer


(1) I am a church member,

I like the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as a civic organization or a country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now we are the body of Christ, and individual members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).!

(2) I am a church member,

I will seek to be a source of unity in the church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.

(3) I am a church member,

I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that are just not my preference or style.!

(4) I am a church member,

I will pray for my pastor every day. His work is never ending. His days are filled with constant demands for his time—with the need to prepare sermons, with those who are rejoicing in births, with those who are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death, with critics, with the hurts and hopes of others, and with the need to be a husband and a father. My pastor cannot serve our church in his own power. I will pray for God’s strength for him and his family every day.!

(5) I am a church member,

I will lead my family to be a good member of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with his church, because He gave His life for her.

(6) I am a church member,

This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honored to serve others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.!

I am a church member,

And I thank God that I am.

*Adapted from pages 77-79 in Thom S. Rainer. I Am A Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference. B&H: Nashville, TN.: 2013.

Book Review: Men of God edited by Trevor Archer and Tim Thornborough

Helping You in Becoming a Man of God

 The stated purpose of this book written by various British men is to answer the question: “What does it mean for modern men to know Christ?” The driving compass guiding this book resonates with a Christo-centric theology designed to “clarify the content of the gospel according to Scripture and then to explore its impact on how men should understand their identity in Christ. It is vital to understand that, without the gospel, what we do week by week in our churches, in our homes, in our leisure and in our working lives will inevitably become man-centered rather than God-centered. This is why we must always return again and again to the gospel as it is revealed in the Scriptures. Only when our lives are centered on the gospel of Christ will we be able to live for Christ.”

The rest of the chapters in the book are briefer than chapter one, all stand alone, and include a biblical section to start with containing applications, and practical case studies for the day to day realities that men face. Each chapter also provides discussion questions provided at the end of the chapter based on the Bible study – ideal for small groups, and discipleship among men (ideal for groups of two-three).

The topics dealt with in this book include men and 1) singleness; 2) marriage; 3) sex; 4) fatherhood; 5) church; 6) work; 7) witness; 8) witness; 9) discipling; 10) leisure. Some of the better-known authors (to Americans anyway) in this book include Tim Chester, David Jackman, and Vaughan Roberts.

I highly recommend this book for men and men’s ministries that have a passion for Christ-centered theology, and want their men to look, sound, and act more like Jesus and impact culture with the gospel. One of the really nice things about this book is that the chapters are short without sacrificing depth.

Book Review: The Gospel Centered Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester

A Fantastic Resource For Making Multiplying Disciples

 Veteran British church planters Steve Timmis and Tim Chester have put together a very helpful workbook for churches that desire to be more intentionally & strategically gospel driven. In three loaded sections this guide (suited ideally for discipleship, leadership teams, or small group’s of various kinds) covers six sessions on the Priority of Mission; six sessions on the Priority of People; and another six sessions on the Priority of Community and the last chapter which is on why “It’s all about the gospel.” This book is ideal as a workbook for church planting core groups, or churches that want to be more missional and multiplicational in their process of making and maturing disciples of Christ.

Each chapter stands alone and contains the following five sections:

Consider this – A scenario—often based on a real-life situation—which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in gospel ministry.

Biblical background – A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.

Read all about it – A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.

Questions for reflection – Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.

Ideas for action – Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.

I think this is a phenomenal resource that helps a church think through how to contextualize the gospel message in its own unique setting. It is concise, deep, Christ exalting, biblical, gospel oriented, God-glorifying and extremely practical. I can’t recommend this resource highly enough.

Book Review – For The City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel By Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter

How The Gospel Impacts and Transforms Culture for Christ

Darrin Patrick (Pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, MO) and Matt Carter (Pastor of Austin Stone Community Church in Texas) both tell the stories of their calling to plant churches – specifically in the city. The two pastors’ inspire existing churches to think through how we proclaim and live out the gospel, and extend a call to the masses to influence our cities with and for the gospel.

I love Carter’s description of his “church model” taken largely from His reflections on reading about Charles Spurgeon’s amazingly effective ministry in London, England in the mid-1800’s:

“Imagine an urban church so influenced by the power of the gospel that it seized every opportunity to proclaim and live out the gospel for the good of the city. Imagine that this church physically and spiritually served the poorest of the poor, but also lovingly rebuked the wealthy. Imagine this church as the epicenter of straight-up, God-fearing, Spirit-filled, revival, leading thousands of people to eternal life in Christ in just a few years. Imagine a church that built elderly housing, housed all the orphans in the city, and taught wealthy business people to have a ‘double bottom line’ so they could run a profitable business in order to support the work of the church and meet the needs of the city. In other words, imagine a church that boldly preached the gospel and lived out the values of the kingdom. Don’t you want to be a part of a church like that?”

My answer is “yes” I do! Along the way the authors show what a gospel centered ministry looks like from their perspectives of planting and pasturing in Mid America and in the South. The subjects they address are how the gospel relates to contextualization, building community, serving in the city, equipping the saints, suffering, and sharing their weaknesses, failures, and by God’s grace – their successes too.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding and application of the gospel and how to penetrate the culture with the gospel through the ministry of the local church.

Book Review: What Is A Healthy Church? By Mark Dever

This book is essentially a condensed version of “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever – Pastor of a Large Conservative Baptist Church in Washington D.C. What makes this book valuable is the concise presentation of the nine practices that make for a healthy church. It is a good resource for a church staff, elder board, deacon board, or small group to go through. I used it to teach through the “nine marks” in an adult Sunday school class in the church where I am the senior pastor.

The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church are as Follows:

1)    Expository Preaching

2)    Biblical Theology

3)    A Biblical Understanding of the Good News

4)    A Biblical Understanding of Conversion

5)    A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism

6)    A Biblical Understanding Membership

7)    Biblical Church Discipline

8)    Biblical Discipleship and Growth

9)    Biblical Church Leadership

I think that any church that focuses on these areas is going to be pretty solid. However, it doesn’t guarantee health. I think character and emotional health come into play as well – e.g. – 1 Corinthians 13 talks about love being an essential quality of the church; also, many churches have good doctrine, infrastructure, and do all the above, but live in a false peace (see Peter Scazzero’s – The Emotionally Healthy Church).

Overall, I recommend this little book as an introductory primer as a good evaluation tool, containing specific areas for local churches to have a good “check list” of ideas and practices to shoot for as they seek to be more Biblical in what they do when they gather together as a local church body. For more detail then what Dever writes in this book – I would recommend the slightly larger book – Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.

Book Review: Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purposes of God by David Platt

As a pastor and life coach I am always looking for ways to better equip my flock to make an impact in ministering to one another, as well as making an impact for Christ in our culture. The author has given us an excellent resource to help us begin the process of fulfilling both of these endeavors by answering this profound question (if you ask profound questions – you get profound answers):

 “How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world?”

Platt proceeds to answer this question with depth, Christ-centeredness, and with practical insight into how followers of Christ can work together to impact one another and the world for the glory of Christ.

Here are the Chapter titles along with the “Big ideas” of each chapter:

1)    Tyranny of the Good: One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church.

2)    The Gospel Misunderstood: The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work.

3)    God is saying something: The Word does the work.

4)    The Genius of Wrong: Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people.

5)    Our Unmistakable Task: We are living-and longing-for the end of the world.

6)    The God Who Exalts God – We are selfless followers of a self-centered God.

The book comes with a Small-Group Discussion Guide, which is a great plus for leaders like myself who desire to make multiplying teams of Christ-centered disciples who live to exalt the glory of Christ in our churches, and ultimately in our culture. I am so grateful that this book came out before Easter – as I will begin using it to train current and future servant-leaders in my church in a monthly training workshop in our church to help teams become more Christo-centric and others oriented for the exaltation of Christ in a man-centered world. I highly recommend this book and I’m excited about training others in the practical theological concepts delineated in this fantastic resource.

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