To me the bible sets forth church membership in a clear and concise manner. What Thom Rainer has done in I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference (B&H 2013) is to present the biblical material in an applicatory manner for the body of Christ today. In this short treatment of the subject Dr. Rainer has done an excellent job to challenge the church today on a personal level. He has taken the biblical statements regarding the church and has posed them as questions and challenges, inciting the church to whole-heartedly “jump in”.
In a less exegetical and more practical way Dr. Rainer has made church membership a thing of joy and packaged it in a way that’s attractive. Don’t hear me saying that Dr. Rainer has watered down the message of the gospel and it’s requirements for the people of God, but instead I want you to see that through this book he has taken something that is usually boring and misunderstood and made it clear and to the point. Using the bible as a guide Dr. Rainer leads us through 6 areas in which members of churches are to function, each accompanied by a challenging pledge and study questions.
The reader is challenged in the following six areas of church membership; function, unity, personal preference, prayer, leadership in the family, and the gift of membership. Each of the areas comes with biblical insight and an underlying theme of community connectedness which ties the whole book together. Drawing from years of ministry experience and a whole range of books regarding the church, Dr. Rainer has done the church a wonderful service in providing a short treatment of the subject which can be read in under an hour. He has provided keen insight into the realm of membership which makes it an enjoyable read and an enjoyable application.
Church membership from a biblical perspective, however, is about servant-hood. It’s about giving. It’s about putting others first
Above all I found this book to be overwhelmingly about Dr. Rainer love for Christ. This book is about more than the church but it isn’t about anything less than the church. To love the body of Christ is to love Christ. Among the command to love God with all our hearts and soul and minds and strength, is a command to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbors certainly include those in the church. Too many times today the church is divided over issues of secondary importance which often causes unpleasant meetings between the two. I should know, being a Protestant and a Charismatic, I have seen firsthand the great chasm between the two.
Let me urge those in any Christian church all across the United States to take up this book and see Christ united. See the power of biblical church membership. Soak in the glory of God’s grace as you see the commandments laid before us to love the community of believers. I am so thankful for this little book and pray that it would be readily available for churches everywhere for the purposes that they will be built up and strengthened by this gracious little work.