Every faithful, gospel-preaching, and Bible-believing church will have flaws. The beauty of the Bride isn’t that it’s without weaknesses, blindspots, and sins, but that those weaknesses, blindspots, and sins are covered in the purifying blood of Christ. He is the perfecter of every imperfection. If we seek a perfect church—or romanticize recreating a New Testament version (overlooking examples of dysfunction and failure that existed even then) we’ll never find it. Not only that, but we’ll miss out on witnessing the sanctifying grace of our Savior.
Just as we—individually—grow in holiness degree by degree, so do our local churches. Stay close and committed enough to see God’s glorious work.
A crucial way to help our local churches grow in faithfulness is for us to grow as faithful church members. Here are some questions to gauge how we’re doing. While many of these principles should stretch past our local congregations, they should at least start in them.
Do I come to church only to be served or to serve?
“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” Mark 10:45
Am I more inclined to criticize my church’s shortcomings or to encourage and cultivate its growth?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
Have I invested the gifts God’s given me primarily for personal gain or for the benefit of the church?
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
Am I more concerned that others reach out to and care for me, or that I reach out to and care for others?
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” Matthew 7:12
Before I fault my church for it’s lack of fill-in-the-blank, have I considered how I need to change?
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
Do I live in close enough fellowship with others that we are able to bear one another’s burdens and speak into one another’s lives?
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” Ephesians 4:15
Do I relate to others with discernment and patience or with a one-size-fits-all hammer of truth that fails to differentiate weakness from rebellion and sin from struggle?
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Do I build community by giving generously and showing hospitality?
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13
If everyone showed the same level of commitment as me, how healthy would my church be?
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” Hebrews 10:24-25
God doesn’t provide a checklist on faithful church membership, but He does provide guiding principles and authoritative truths to apply in the context of a local church (whether that be a small house church or a congregation of thousands). I’d encourage you to consider these questions and pray for God to give you ONE takeaway to work on with His help.
Related article: 4 Ways to Love Your Pastor