Yesterday I talked to you about an observation I have made over the past few months in the gym. As I work out, daily there are different types of folks who join me in my effort to stay healthy. We looked at several different “types” of gym-goers. Today, we’re going to look at the connection from those gym members to church members.
1. Casual Members: At church, we have casual members as well. There are quite a few members who come to a gathering of the members just to say they’ve gone “to church”, just like one would say about the gym. These members typically come in to the auditorium or class and find a seat. They may open up their Bible, but they don’t really pay attention. They flip through their Bible to find old notes, or maybe they take this opportunity to read through that wonderful weekly production we call the bulletin. When they start their worship, its done with lip-service and a smile. They may partake of the sacred communion, but in heart they’re thinking elsewhere.
After service is over, they may talk to a few people, but their goal is to make lunch plans instead of discuss spiritual matters. With God left behind on the pew they sat in for an hour, they leave, expecting to see Him in the same spot last week.
2. Social Members: Just like the gym goers, there are the same two categories of Social Members.
Beneficial Social: These are the members who come to church for the benefit of encouraging one another. Perhaps there is a particular person they connect with strongly, and they have a mutually edify each other. These members are seen together often in church, but they’re always doing something for the Lord or the congregation. When they’re together, they’re talking about how they can make each other stronger, and others as well.
Hindering Social: These are the members who might as well just go to Starbucks on Sunday morning instead of to the worship service. They are there for the benefit of each other, and not for the spiritual uplifting of others, or even for God. They spend a lot of time gossiping, talking about how they hate certain things that are going on at the church, how poorly the song service or sermon was done, how little the sermon applied to them, how cold or hot the building is, how the punctuation in the bulletin is wrong….need I go on? These people gain strength from each other by tearing other things down.
3. Status quo Members: Remembering what we said yesterday, Status quo is defined as a commonly used form of the original Latin “statu quo” – literally “the state in which” – is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally “the state in which before”, means “the state of affairs that existed previously”.
I think most members fall into this category. They come to “church” with one purpose, because they need to do so. This isn’t a bad thing. They need the relationships, they need the worship, they need the study, they need it all. However, these members are totally happy not doing anything new. They are okay with having a similar sermon or sermon style every week. They are okay with the same order of worship. They are okay with the occasional stomping on of toes, but not too much. They want a sermon on baptism every 6 -8 weeks or so.
Status quo members tend to be okay with missing an occasional service for things that pop up. Their commitment is less to the church they are members of, and more to just being at a church somewhere.
4. Hardcore Members: These are the ones I like. They come to church each week with a mission, just like a hard core gym goer. They want to stretch, grow, and have their hearts broken and restored. They don’t care if others see them raising their hands in worship or physically kneeling in prayer, because its not about what others see in them, but its about what God sees in them. Their goal is to give it all to God, and give what’s left to the church.
These members are excited by new worship songs, new people getting involved, and different speakers. These members understand that if they do the exact same thing every Sunday and Wednesday, that they nor the church will experience growth of any kind. They leave with nothing but God in their hearts, because they moved everything else out of the way before they came so God could fill it up. They can’t wait till the next opportunity to be with everyone else, but in the meantime will be preparing by doing a plethora of Christian-like actions all week. They will actually pray during the week for the ministers, the members, and for the elders and deacons. They will spend time during the week with God, instead of leaving Him on the pew till the next week.
I love the Lord’s church, and I really enjoy going to the gym. At this moment in my life, however, I don’t exactly know which category I fall into when it comes to the church. I’m definitely in the Hardcore Membership for the gym. I love to go. I spend time during the week planning out nutritious snacks and meals as best I can. I plan my day around when I go to the gym on the days I work out.
The sad part is I’m not sure which category I fall into when it comes to the church. I know what I want to be. I think most Christians who read this will say “Oh, I’m definitely a hardcore member”, but are we? There are days when I can’t wait to get away and just be by myself and my family. There are days when I complain about the sermon or the classes. There are days when I would rather go home than stay for a fellowship meal, but I end up doing these things out of obligation instead of desire or want.
The truth of the matter is, I strive to be a hardcore church member, but often times I’m sucked in by the others. Let’s face it, these other types have a tremendous impact on us, especially those who may be “status quo” members. We all have those times when we just come because we need to come. Guess what? That’s okay. Sometimes, we come and gossip or we sit and complain. While that may not be the best thing for us to do, as long as we’re trying our hardest to be a part of our church family, that’s what is important.
I’ve learned to appreciate the “Beneficial Social” member. I think God puts the right person in our paths when we need them the most, and sometimes that person may be that sweet lady at church who always asks how you’re doing. It may be that kind man who always shakes your hand and pats you on the back and assures you that you’re doing a good job.
But, I think we should all strive to be a hardcore member, if for no other reason, for the flexibility in which they enter into worship. They have the attitude of “whatever happens, its for God, not for me”. Just like those hardcore gym members say “If its beneficial, no matter how much I hate them, I’m going to squats” or “lunges”. Sometimes the things we don”t like to do help us the most. And, when we have that flexibility, I think we would be surprised as to how much God will help us each grow.