“It is an error when believers think they need to be ‘members’ only of the universal—not the local—church. It’s both.” —Charles R. Swindoll
As we enter adulthood in our faith, one of the most significant realizations to draw upon us is a healthy understanding of and appreciation for the church. Most go through real battles in coming to this conclusion. The church, during our growing up years, suffers the brunt of our criticism and the bulk of our complaints. We go through periods where we ignore or resent the church; then we go to the extreme of virtually worshipping the church. We want to come to terms with the role of the church, its importance in our lives, some major reasons for its effectiveness, and why Christ established it in the first place.
It’s easy to think of one’s church involvement as a passive relationship...a once-a-week activity that requires little more than a slight passing interest. On the contrary, becoming a member of this local church carries with it certain expectations that dare not be diminished. As we consider the areas of greatest significance, no less than eight expectations are important enough to mention.
- Assume the responsibility for his or her own spiritual nourishment through personal and corporate Bible study and prayer
- Participate in the weekly worship services on a regular basis
- Join the family life of the church in a congregational and/or small group context
- Exercise his or her spiritual gifts in specific areas of involvement
- Support the variety of ministries of the church through prayer and service
- Contribute financially to the church in a consistent, generous manner
- Share his or her faith personally while supporting others who proclaim the Gospel around the world
- Respond positively to the leadership in matters of church policy and discipline
By maintaining these expectations, our lives can be sufficiently nurtured, our church will remain a vital force in this world, and our God will be glorified.