In Do You Think of Your Church As a Country Club?, I wrote of Thom Rainer’s book, I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference. In it, he addresses the country club mentality that is prevalent in too many church members. True, there is a self-centered, self-serving attitude that we can easily develop. It leads our churches to become inwardly-focused. Rainer writes, "In our survey [of 557 churches] we found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches." They are...
- Worship wars. One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain constant. Certain instrumentation is required while others are prohibited.
- Prolonged minutia meetings. The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.
- Facility focus. The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.
- Program driven. Every church has programs even if they don’t admit it… The problem is not with programs. The problem develops when the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.
- Inwardly focused budget. A disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.
- Inordinate demands for pastoral care. All church members deserve care and concern, especially in times of need and crisis. Problems develop, however, when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters.
- Attitudes of entitlement. This issue could be a catch-all for many of the points named here. The over-arching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.
- Greater concern about change than the gospel. Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.
- Anger and hostility. Members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.
- Evangelistic apathy. Very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.
In almost every behavior above, church members were looking out for their own needs and preferences… You get the picture. I. Me. Myself. Church membership from a biblical perspective, however, is about servanthood. It’s about giving. It’s about putting others first. What mindset does each and every one of us - including the pastor - need to have as a church members? The mindset of Christ, the Servant, is what we need the Holy Spirit to produce. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5) [I Am a Church Member is published by B&H Publishing Group, 2013, suggested retail is $12.99.]
Paul Tautges has served Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as pastor since 1992. He is also an adjunct professor of biblical counseling and conference speaker. Paul has authored eight books including Counsel One Another, Comfort Those Who Grieve, The Discipline of Mercy, and Brass Heavens. He is also the editor of the popular Help! discipleship counseling booklet series (24 titles). Paul is a NANC Fellow and a Council Board member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He and his wife Karen are the parents of ten children. Paul blogs regularly at counselingoneanother.com.