Dangers Church Members Face

As church members we are often in danger particularly when we don’t understand how to live. From being overly concerned about how we look to over analyzing the words we use in prayer to getting caught up in the snare of thinking that we don’t spiritually measure up to everyone else, we have a tendency to act no different than the unsaved. We so easily slide into the double-standard of holding others to biblical standards of behavior while ignoring how much we ourselves violate them. And sometimes we even create our own standards that not only God Himself has given to us and insist on holding our brothers and sisters accountable to them.

In short, not only can we find ourselves wanting to wear a Pharisee’s cloak, but we also see the truth of Proverbs 29:25 as we fear man more than God. Unfortunately, we don’t have the rooster crowing as a reminder like Peter did during his denial, but we do have the word of God.

So what is this about these dangers? Well, if you will first read Pastor Aaron’s great article Fears of a New (and Young) Pastor you will understand from whence I come. It’s wonderful to see such a clear admonition and transparency from a pastor. My attempt here is to build on that article and take a look from the other side as a church member. I will broaden the challenge from the first person to members in general while definitely including myself. Yes, these are dangers I fear of myself and fellow church members. These dangers stem from past experience when I was on a church staff to observations in general as a member in contemplating the life and health of the church family.

Danger of acting on one way around church members and another way around everyone else.

Many times we judge ourselves in the faith by comparing ourselves to each other. We tend to be more careful in our words and actions around one another, especially, around our pastors. At the same time, we expect our pastors to live up to the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 with the utmost perfection 100% of the time with absolutely no room to be sinners themselves. Worse yet, I dare say there is even a tendency to hold our pastors under a microscope to a point which even the apostles might fail.

What we should all understand is that we are that we are that tax collector in Luke 18. For if we are that Pharisee indeed we must repent. The only one we are fooling by acting righteous at the appropriate times is ourselves. Derek Webb puts it well in his song I Repent, “trading sins for others that are easier to hide.” We are all to be conformed, not to each others’ image, but to the image of Christ.

Danger of not listening to the truth.

It’s a blessing to have a pastor that preaches uncompromisingly from the Bible. However, we may not always like it. The word of God is convicting and doesn’t always conform to our thinking in a way that we want.

I don’t mean to say that we aren’t to be good Bereans and test what we hear by Scripture. However, there is a danger of falling into the trap as 2 Timothy 4 says of having “itching ears” and following what we want. Some preaching might be challenging to our preconceived notions, but we should submit to sound teaching and to God’s appointed authority.

Danger of becoming a professional church member.

In the USA’s capitalist economic system people can become a professional at anything with virtually unlimited potential. There many ways to make a living and indulge our time with the economic freedom to do so. We are used to being in control on many levels. Church membership and involvement can be no different.

Just as much as pastors’ face a danger of becoming professionals so do church members. We should not want the church to become a bunch of scheduled events. Those events may begin to become self-serving instead of Christ serving. We are all not always going to agree with everything going on in the church. Instead, Christ should be magnified as we serve one another and seek to glorify God as a body.

Danger of being disappointed by the pastor due to unbiblical expectations.

Our pastors are not Superman, Fortune 500 CEO’s nor are they Adam in the garden. Besides, Adam fell anyways. There seems to be an expectation out there, either said or unsaid, that the pastor is to grow the church numerically or he’s failed. The irony in that is if it is just the pastor “growing” the church then he really has failed. God grows the church. The pastor may be the vehicle through the ministering of the word nurturing the body spiritually. God may or may not add numbers of people the way we might want. Sometimes there may be spiritual growth may first be in order.

Sometimes, due to a sinful congregation and their expectations and desires the pastor may be kept from moving forward in a biblical manner. These issues might stem from arguments over an altar call, when/how an offering is taken, structure of church government to something as simple as the color of the curtains. These are bad arguments in general and even worse ones to run a pastor off over. So let’s look to the Scripture for our understanding and seek not to be 1 inch deep and 10 miles wide, but 10 or more miles deep and as wide as God will bless.

Danger of a lack of accountability and openness.

This is a very tough issue that we face as a church at large whether locally or nationally. There is this little thing which many (all?) of these issues start with, pride! And so much more does pride seem to effect us on such a personal level of openness and accountability. For one thing, people are afraid to be gossiped about if they are too open. At the same time, if we are to be biblically faithful and bear one another’s burdens we can share with each other carefully choosing our words.

Openness can also lead to being accountable to one another. This may mean being ready to be called, in love, to repentance of sin as well as being ready to call another to repentance. This cannot be just the pastor’s job as he cannot have omnipotent knowledge of everything in the church. More importantly Scripture tells us in James 5 to bring others back from sin and Galatians 1 tells us to restore one another in gentleness. These are not easy things to do given our sinful desires, but with Christ all things are possible. Just as Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 12 that the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness” so that when Paul was weak he was strong.

My concluding rudimentary observations are that most of these dangers stem from being me-centered rather than God-centered. I pray for the health of the local church as we work together seeking glorify God. May continue to encourage on another to turn to the cross of Christ both individually and corporately.

I’d like to suggest Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s new book What Is a Healthy Church Member? which you can actually order by clicking on the picture above.

My friend Steve Camp’s The Mark of a Man of God is a great song applicable to all in the church. You can listen online to this great song as a reminder of how we should live our lives in Christ.

For what it’s worth…

Mark

The above article was posted on June 21, 2008 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SJ Camp June 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Thank you my brother for this article and for the song plug. I wrote that song for a pastor; specifically about my friend John MacArthur and his ministry.

I read your blog frequently and so appreciate the Christcenteredness you maintain here free from the snarky trolling.

Keep on Mark… Your voice is needed in today’s evangelical climate and world.

Grace and peace,
Steve
Psalm 86:10-12

2 Reg S. June 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Excellent article. I know for myself my pride played a major part in my fall into sin and God had to do some pretty drastic things to break me. I was self-righteous without seeing the plank in my own eye , I fell hard but now have found a couple of men to be open and honest , being real has helped in both healing and restoration . We need to be both accountable and willing to realize we are all in need of the grace of Christ , praying for each other , sharing each others burdens and always seeking reconciliation and forgiveness .

3 johnMark June 25, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Steve,

Thanks for stopping by, brother. And it’s a good song!

Reg,

I appreciate your kind words on my post and honesty in dealing with these issues.

Grace,

Mark

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