It was a big deal for this young boy living in the small Southern town. I didn’t know what a country club was, but I knew one was coming to town. And it included a swimming pool, a dining area, and meeting rooms. The owners also promised to build a small golf course, a promise they would fulfill a couple of years later.
Now don’t get the wrong impression. This country club was not the typical upscale clubs we often envision. It was really a small private enterprise trying to make a few bucks in a small town by offering a few amenities.
But I was overwhelmed. My parents were middle-class in income, so they could afford the small monthly fee. From my perspective, though, I had it made. I could now go to a swimming pool. I didn’t know of anyone who had their own pool in town, so this amenity was exciting. I could order a burger from the dining area. And we could have birthday parties in the pool or the meeting rooms.
I began to learn a lesson. Membership means perks. Membership means privileges. Membership means others will serve me. Just pay the going rate, and you can have others tak-ing care of you while you enjoy a life of leisure.
And, tragically, this understanding of membership is what many church members hold.
“This is my church, so you have to play the music just the way I want it.”
“Look pastor, you need to remember who pays your salary.” “If you don’t do this program, I’ll withhold my check to
“I’ve been a member of this church for over thirty years, so I have a right to get what I want.”
“I don’t pay good money to this church to listen to sermons that long.”
Okay, you get the picture. Those unfortunately typical comments come from members of churches who have an unbiblical view of membership. Their view of membership is more aligned with country club membership.
For them, membership is about receiving instead of giving, being served instead of serving, rights instead of responsibili-ties, and entitlements instead of sacrifices. This wrongful view of membership sees the tithes and offerings as membership dues that entitle members to a never-ending list of privileges and expectations, instead of an unconditional cheerful gift to God.
So, what does the Bible say about church membership? I’m glad you asked.
This is an excerpt from the book I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer