This is a jewel of a book: small in size but priceless in its simple, powerful message for anyone who cares about the well-being of Christian congregations in the world today and who genuinely wants to be a more effective church member. Without being overly preachy or self-righteous, Rainer takes the reader step-by-step through a biblical depiction of what it means to be a church member. For each lesson, he cites supporting scripture, gives real-world examples, and offers action steps and a personal pledge that you will strive to improve that particular aspect of being a solid and valuable church member.
It’s all too easy to have unrealistic expectations of a church, its members, and its pastor. Far too often, we slip into a “What’s in it for me?” mindset that leads to our being frustrated and dissatisfied with everything from the length of the sermon to the hypocrites sitting next to us in the pew. We say we’re not being spiritually fed or we don’t feel moved or inspired. We demand service as though it were a country club membership.
“God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks,” says the author. “He placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the gospel. Many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down. It’s time to get it right. It’s time to become a church member as God intended. It’s time to give instead of being entitled.”
It is a tribute to the author’s own humility and spirit of generosity that he was able to deliver some really hard-hitting messages and still motivate and inspire rather than chastise and beat down. I ended the book with several specific things I was moved to do to be a better church member, and I have been sharing the book with others in my congregation.
Perhaps one of the most poignant parts of Rainer’s book was the portrayal of the many pressures and stresses our priests and pastors face and the importance of praying for them daily. They bear the burdens of the many members of the congregation who confide in them, and when a parishioner dies, the pastor must console and support the grieving family before he can deal with his own grief in losing a member of his flock and perhaps a friend.
Another well-delivered message here is how important it is for Christians to be part of a local congregation. The author reminds us that much of the New Testament was written about—and to—local churches. Being connected to the other parts of the Body of Christ is how we grow to spiritual maturity.
My one suggestion to the author and publisher for the next printing of the book would be to include testimonials from some mainline denomination leaders along with the existing excellent comments from evangelical and fundamentalist leaders. The principles in this book would be enjoyed and appreciated across all Christian communities.
I Am a Church Member is compelling, highly readable, and deserves a wide audience. As the author states, “If we could just abide by the principles of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), we would have completely healthy churches. It would be a revolution!”
This short book will educate and inspire you. Let it help you transform your own relationship with your church. Order it today! Available in hardcover, Kindle, or audio: