Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
Now is the time to stand up and say
Could you be the answer to the problems you see?
Every day we are faced with the needs of those around us. Emotional. Physical. Spiritual. What are we to do about it? Are these problems four our pastors to address or is there also a way for the church member to make an impact that will last?
Best-selling author Thom S. Rainer answers these questions by offering nine simple traits that all church members can incorporate into your life no matter your background, stage of life, or sense of capability.
You can do it. Now it's time to just stand up and say you will!
I can't honestly say that I was excited to read this book. You see I felt a terrible sense of conviction right from the cover. All of those crossed out phrases have been in my thoughts and most likely on my lips. I know I should, but . . . just fill in the blank with a lame excuse and that would be me.
I've been a church member for most of my life. If you were to ask me generically if I love the Church I would say of course I do. But if you were to dig a little deeper and be a little more specific you'd find the cracks in my attitude. Just like any long-term relationship we've kind of worn thin in places. And the truth is that I hate that! But until recently I hadn't thought much about how to repair and restore the joy that I once found in the body of Christ.
In his straight-forward yet gentle way Thom Rainer has set out nine traits that if adopted would make large strides in putting that relationship back in proper perspective. He starts with talking about our attitude (which of course didn't help mine)! If you look around it is easy to see that we all want to know what's in it for me. That attitude has slowly pervaded the church and it is having a disastrous affect on all of us.
Chapter Two is titled "I Will Worship With Others". The following is a quote that just laid me flat:
"In many of our churches, we have to beg people to attend worship services. But so many have inexcusable conflicts. Like the football game. Or the kid's soccer game. Or the traveling softball team. Or the weekend at the lake. Or the fact that I only slept five hours.
For many Christians, all other activities have become mandatory while the worship service has become an optional afterthought." (pg. 29)So when did I start worrying about disappointing others by not being able to commit to something when it is on a Sunday and being fine with neglecting the Church? That's a tough pill to swallow. As a kid growing up skipping church was never an option but as an adult I have done that very thing.
In the chapters that follow Rainer continues to point out areas that we should respond with an "I Will". He drives the point home by taking a look back at the first churches of the New Testament. Can you even imagine any of those early believers saying, "Um sorry can't make service tomorrow I've got a big meeting on Monday that I have to prepare for." Hardly!
Chapter 7: "I Will Not Be A Church Dropout" and Chapter 8: "I Will Avoid The Traps Of Churchianity" had the biggest impact on me. There are so many things that have become the norm in our churches (like coffee shops and youth rally atmosphere worship services) that I just don't like. But these two chapters again reminded me that I don't go to church because of those things, I go because I serve God.
Rainer describes Churchianity as: "practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines." (pg. 93) Ouch! He shares five symptoms that are all too common and should be avoided at all costs. These are all things that are easy to recognize in others, but the point is to recognize when we have adopted them ourselves.
If I had to sum this book up I would say the theme is You Be The Change You Are Seeking. Joy is contagious and if you are serving God and your fellow man out of a heart of joy others are going to want to join you. The thought that remains after reading the book is that foreign Christians would be dumbfounded by our Americanized version of the Church. They risk being killed for gathering together while we neglect that sacred right.
While I think this would be a great book for small groups, I say you read it first and absorb its contents. Then approach your leadership with it and encourage your people to join you in this thought provoking study.
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