Your 7 Job Responsibilities as a Church Member

At our church, the basic definition of a member is someone who is over 18, confirmed, received communion at least twice in the past year, and is known to the treasurer. And, while our senior pastor is working gently but clearly on redefining that definition — I wonder what would happen if a congregation understood these seven responsibilities… and had the interview he mentions at the end?

When you hear the words “church government,” what do you think? Members’ meetings? Elder board rooms? Fights over the budget or the color of the carpet? Too often it can seem that way. Yet church government should involve so much more. In fact, it should tie into the everyday life of the church. And everyone has a role to play. Did you know, ordinary church member, that Jesus has given you a job? Your elders have a special office, to be sure, but so do you. And Jesus has given you elders in order to train you to do your job. So if Jesus’s discipleship program gives every single member a job, what responsibilities come with this job? There are at least seven.

1. Attend Church Regularly

You, as a baptized Christian and ordinary member of a church, are responsible to attend church regularly. Scripture could not be clearer about this fundamental responsibility so that you can give yourself to love and good works and encouragement.And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24–25) The author threatens final judgment if you do not attend (vv. 26–27). The stakes are high indeed. After all, if you do not attend, you cannot fulfill the next six responsibilities. Attendance makes everything else possible.

2. Help Preserve the Gospel

You, as a baptized Christian and ordinary member of a church, are responsible for protecting and preserving the gospel and the gospel’s ministry in your church. Think about Paul’s “amazement” in Galatians 1: “I am amazed that you are so quickly . . . turning to a different gospel” (v. 6). He upbraids not the pastors, but the members, and tells them to reject even apostles or angels who teach a false gospel. What this means, Christian, is that you are responsible to study the gospel and know it. Can you summarize the gospel in 60 seconds or less? Can you explain the relationship between faith and works? Can a Christian live in unrepentant sin? Why or why not? Why is it important for a Christian to affirm the doctrine of the Trinity? What role do good deeds, fellowship, and hospitality play in promoting a church’s gospel ministry? Why should a church never let its identity and ministry be subverted by a political party? These are the kinds of questions, Christian, that you are responsible to answer in order to help guard the gospel. I am not telling you to find answers independently of your elders. They should equip you to answer such questions. If they aren’t, you might not be in the best church.Know the gospel, and what the gospel requires in the church’s and a Christian’s life.

3. Help Affirm Gospel Citizens

You, as a baptized Christian and ordinary member of a church, are responsible for protecting the gospel and the gospel’s ministry in your church by affirming and disaffirming gospel citizens. In a matter of discipline Paul doesn’t address the Corinthian elders, but the Corinthian church itself (1 Cor. 5:1–13; 2 Cor. 2:6–8). Likewise, it is your responsibility, Christian, to receive and dismiss members. Jesus has given it to you. For you to neglect this work only cultivates complacency, nominalism, and eventually theological liberalism.Of course, the job here is bigger than showing up at members’ meetings and voting on new members. It involves working to know and be known by your fellow members seven days a week. You cannot affirm and give oversight to a people you don’t know, not with integrity anyhow. That doesn’t mean you’re responsible to know personally every member of your church. We do this work collectively. But look for ways to start including more of your fellow members into the regular rhythm of your life. Paul offers a useful checklist for doing this: Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. (Rom. 12:10–13) How are you doing on this list?

4. Attend Members’ Meetings

So how do you preserve the gospel and affirm gospel citizens? By showing up consistently for members’ meetings. Different churches make decisions in different ways, which is fine. But whatever venue your church uses for making the decisions concerning the gospel “what” (the doctrine of the gospel) and the gospel “who” (the people of the gospel), you should be there.You cannot do your job if you don’t show up to the office. Admittedly, members’ meetings have a bad rap. I understand. So many are unhealthy cauldrons of dispute and insurgency. But don’t let bad marriages cause you to give up on marriage. By God’s grace, I’ve been a part of several churches now where the members’ meetings feel like warm, encouraging, and engaging family gatherings. Part of that depends on the leadership of the pastors in those meetings and how they plan it. Part of that depends on you.

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