Thom Rainer. I am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference (Nashville: B&H, 2013) 96 pp. $9.54 at Amazon [You can purchase the book by clicking the image to the left]
Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He was written more than twenty books and blogs regularly about church issues.
Thom Rainer’s book on church membership is clear, concise, and necessary for our day in which people are starting to believe church membership is unnecessary and unhelpful. We live in a day where there are church hoppers, church attendees, and Easter and Christmas Christians. Rainer’s book on church membership comes at a great time. Churches need people who are committed together for the glory of God and for the sake of each other.
I am a Church Member consists of an introduction and six chapters.
The introduction and first chapter discuss the value and functions of church membership. Rainer talks about how many men and women say why they don’t want to be a church member and the excuses that come along with it, such as the accusation that the church is full of hypocrites (5). But then he asserts that we miss our own hypocrisies when we make such judgments. I couldn’t agree more. The church is different than a country club. Membership in a church means you are part of the whole and you play an important individual role in that whole (12). While Rainer is describing membership, he is also opening up the passage of 1 Corinthians 12 and its functionality in membership. At the end of each chapter, Rainer has a pledge for readers to sign, which adds a personal and intimate element to the book.
In chapters two and three, Rainer discusses the importance of unity in being a church member and not letting things in the church become about you. The world will know if we are Christians by how we love one another (21). This is something I take joy in. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love to hear their stories and how God is using them! The way we love one another is the way Christ is shown. Rainer also discusses the role of a church member as a servant. That is what we are to do in the church is serve. Church members who are servants do not allow preferences or style to take priority over the work of Christ.
In chapters four through six, Rainer says members should pray for leaders, pray for the pastor and his family, pray for their protection that God may keep them focused, and pray for his physical and mental health. If you really love and support your pastor, you will pray for him.
Rainer discusses the role of church members in the family as well. Parents are to train their children in the word. But also the importance of worshiping together as a family is called for. But everyone in the church is family, they are the real blood brothers and sisters unified in Christ. Rainer also says that we should treasure church membership as a gift. It is a gift. A great gift. Healthy church membership means you find your joy in being last, instead of seeking your way and being first (73).
Analysis: 6 Takeaways
There are six takeaways that are very key from Dr. Rainer’s book.
1. Rainer understands many of the problems that plague our local churches.
2. Rainer understands the culture of the local church.
3. Rainer states what needs to change in the local church for the gospel to advance!
4. Rainer loves the local church.
5. This book is rooted and grounded in Scripture. It is not a legalistic book on membership. It is a God-glorifying book on membership straight from the Scripture.
6. Dr. Rainer explains that membership to a church is biblical, must not be neglected, and is to be a journey filled with joy.
I Am a Church Member would serve as an excellent new member primer as well as a healthy refresher for long time members who may have forgotten the attitudes and responsibilities that accompany healthy church membership.
Evan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College where he studies Biblical and Theological Studies. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, Lauren. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.