Recently, I was reading a short little book called “I Am A Church Member” by Thom Rainer. Basically, I’m going to go ahead and say this is essential reading for any church-going follower of Christ. Why? Because it’s short, easy to understand, and helpful as we consider how we engage with the greater Body of Christ and its individual, local expressions like Calvary. So please, read the book if you can – newer members at Calvary will already be familiar since it is used in our membership process. (And by the way, it’s only like 75 pages! Link here. Also available on Audible.)
But he takes it a step further – and this is where my understanding fell short in a painfully obvious way. I have, of course, always rejected the idea that church membership means you “pay dues” through giving and then expect something in return. I knew it was different than that. But Biblically, “member” means something closer to appendage than club participant/owner. Of course it means that!
What Being a Member Really Means
Anyway, there is a piece in there that I wanted to bring to your attention because it just made SO MUCH SENSE. Rainer looks at the word “member” carefully, and points out how our understanding of that word has been corrupted by outside influence. He highlights what membership in a country club looks like – you pay money, so you get special perks and privileges of the tennis club/golf course/etc. And, he argues (rightly) that that is not what Biblical membership is or should be.