14 Apr Is Church Using You Or Are You Using It?|6 Church and Member Responsibilities
You drop off your daughter at school every morning. At the end of every term, she brings glowing results and you’re happy she is doing great. When she finally sits the national primary leaving exam, you get the shock of your life. She scored Fs and no high school is willing to accept her. Won’t you feel used and cheated by the school?
Well, that’s exactly what some Christians experience in their churches. They attend regularly and serve faithfully for years only to discover they were hoodwinked. Most of what the pastors taught and did in the name of Christ was done for their selfish reasons and personal gain.
And saddest of all, some Christians will not make it to heaven. Some who get to heaven will have wasted time and resources and all their works will be burnt to ashes and they’ll only escape with their lives. Let’s be very careful how we build on the foundation of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
In the last days, we’re in, false and fake teachers, pastors, evangelists, apostles and prophets are common. Don’t be surprised when they have many followers, perform miracles, have powerful public relations, active social media presence and seem to do the right things. The Bible warned us about them! Matthew 24:24.
We should remember that even the devil knows how to appear as an angel of light as he attempts to deceive even the elect. 2 Corinthians 11:14.
To avoid being used, cheated or duped by the ‘men or women of God’, examine your church and those it associates with according to the seven responsibilities of a local church.
- Teach You The True Gospel/sound doctrine. The church of Christ should be the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15. Has your church exposed you to the full counsel of God’s Word through expository teaching book by book? Since you became a Christian, have you read your Bible from Genesis to Revelation?
Truth mixed with error equals error and just as a drop of poison in a glass kills, a little lie can destroy a whole life. And it’s not just the error that’s problematic but also the truth that’s left unsaid. The true and wholesome knowledge of God is necessary for spiritual growth and faithful service to God. All scripture is necessary for you to be fully equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Sound doctrine matters big time because it determines our spiritual growth and service. Titus 1:9, 2:1, 2 Timothy 4:3. In the age of social media, a church needs to call out false teachers and equip its members to test and detect false doctrine.
Therefore, like the Bereans in the Bible, search the scriptures for yourself to confirm whether what you hear on the pulpit or on television is scriptural. Acts 17:11. Walk away from false teachings once you detect them. Read more about false teachers in 2 Peter 2.
- Disciple You To Christ Likeness. In the years you’ve attended your church, would you say your speech and conduct imitate Christ? Romans 8:29, 1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 2:21. Your church owes you systematic, intentional and practical discipleship based on sound doctrine to form your character, grow you in holiness and teach you to walk as Christ walked.
Check out the Seven Identities of a Christian.
- Remember The Poor, Widows and Orphans. The early church cared for each other and helped the vulnerable people. Does your church care and share? Galatians 2:10, James 1:27. Matthew 25:35-40. What do you make of churches that raise millions for building projects at the expense of needy members and their full-time ministers? 1 Corinthians 9:14.
Be careful with pastors who live in luxury with big cars, mansions, expensive suits, using church money because they often have no compassion for the poor, widows and orphans. To add salt to the wound, they promise the same riches to every Christian who has faith and sows seed to their ministry! How absurd! They might help and publicize their giving as a PR stunt but a godly person will see through their fake lifestyle. Jesus said, “you’ll know them by their fruit.” Matthew 7:15-20.
- Appoint Elders Who Teach, Discipline and Closely Follow The Affairs Of The Church. The senior pastor is incapable of running the church alone and needs the support, encouragement and accountability of a board, elders or leadership council. The litmus test of accountability regards teaching the true gospel and financial steward. If your senior pastor messed up, who would speak the truth to him? A senior pastor who controls everything and does as he pleases endangers his congregation. Even the Apostle Paul was accountable to the church council in Jerusalem. Acts 15.
Pastors can be rebuked by fellow pastors as Paul did to Peter. Galatians 2:11. Unfortunately, some men of God are untouchable and unteachable.
- Set Up Clear Guidelines For Church Membership. Everyone who attends church is not a member of the church. For instance, if a person decides to live in sin and refuses to repent, do they keep serving? In the early church, rebellious and immoral church members were kicked out. 1 Corinthians 5:5. Lack of church discipline, correction or rebuke encourages sin to thrive. Ecclesiastes 8:11.
Some churches allow people who are cohabiting or fornicating to serve in church! How can that be? The membership guidelines are simply based on who the Bible says a Christian should be. Bible also gives qualifications for those who minister in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Does your church tolerate sin?
- Worship, Fellowship and Holy Communion. Every church needs small groups for Bible study, discipleship, fellowship and prayer. And through regular Holy Communion, Christians remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the need for repentance and the hopeful expectation of Christ’s return and wedding supper of the Lamb in heaven. Revelations 19:9. The early church kept the practice of fellowship and breaking bread. Acts 2:42. Jesus himself said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19. Does your church remember Christ through Holy Communion? How often?
Should you leave if your church is failing in one or two of these responsibilities? Ask God to guide you. You’re his servant and His Spirit in you is your counsellor.
As you seek His will and grow in His truth, you’ll no longer entertain or tolerate the lies and drama of a church that’s hindering you from “coming to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” Ephesians 4:13. NKJV
Once your eyes open, I pray God will give you the courage to find a congregation that values sound doctrine and worships in truth.
Might you be using your church?
As ministers of your church do their best to watch over your soul and build you to spiritual maturity, you also have several responsibilities.
As a member of the body of Christ, you also have a key role to play in building and expanding the kingdom of God through your local churches. Here is how you can participate:
- Attend church service on Sunday and a small group fellowship for Bible study and fellowship once a week.
- Serve in a church department using your spiritual gifts. You’re God’s servant and a gift to your local church. Discover your gifts and use your skills to serve your church community.
- Give finances to your church because it has ministers to pay, bills to clear and needy people to look after.
- Disciple young believers who need someone to guide them and be a good example to them. Older men mentor young men and older women mentor young women.
- Submit to and pray for your church leaders. They have a great responsibility of watching over your soul, don’t make their work even harder by rebelling or refusing to serve. Hebrews 13:17.
- Love one another for this is the sign to the world that we’re disciples of Christ. John 13:35. How can we claim to love each other when someone in our church goes to bed hungry, has no clothes or doesn’t have a place to stay? Love and faith without action are dead. James 2:14-26.
The church you attend can help you become spiritually mature or make you stagnate spiritually. It may be time to examine whether your church is using you or you’re using your church!
Hirwa G. Israel is a child of God, married to Damalie and blessed with two girls. His life assignment is to teach and disciple Christians to maturity, and to equip and coach leaders to accomplish God’s purpose in their generation. He serves as the CEO of The Hud Group Uganda and COO of YAW PERBI Executive Education.