What Do You Expect of Members of the Congregation?

About two years ago, I visited with a pastor who started a new church. It was in a section of town where people told me you couldn’t grow a church. The neighborhood was changing. 

This man and his family had started the church in his living room with very few people about three or four years earlier. When I visited, they were having about 500 in Sunday services.

Some of the “mustard seeds” I picked up from our visit and breakfast conversation:

As we entered the building, he said, “We’re only 40% finished on our remodeling the building. We operate on cash. We tell our people what we want to do. When we get the money, this project will be completed which will help us reach more people.”

They had video monitors throughout the building. On each monitor was a message:

Welcome
Jim Orman
and
Jerrie Barber

People were there to explain what was happening in each ministry. This was for two people visiting on a Thursday morning.

They have introduction classes to let people know what will be expected of them when they become members of that church — whether by baptism or placing membership.

Expectations:

  • People who are members of this church are expected to participate in regular worship. That’s what Christians do.
  • People who are members of this church are expected to give liberally. That’s what Christians do.
  • People who are members of this church are expected to be active in serving God and others. That’s what Christians do. They work with new members to help them discover their strengths in ministry and have them commit to a specific area of ministry.
  • People who are members of this church will sign a commitment not to gossip. They explain that gossip will kill a church. They will not tolerate gossip. This sounds like Titus 3:10, 11.

What does Jesus expect?

  • Love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Mark 12:30 
  • Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, follow Jesus. Luke 9:23 
  • Hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and your own life also. Luke 14:26 
  • Be prepared for the final test. “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:35, 36 
  • Love Jesus and keep His commandments. John 14:15 
  • Love fellow disciples as Jesus loves us. John 13:34, 35

Some of my brethren in the area say this church is growing because of the loud drums. That may draw some people.

But could it also be that people like to be challenged to do what and how Jesus taught people to be His followers?

What do you expect of people who become members by baptism and placing membership of the church you lead?

How do you communicate that to them?

Do you get most of what you expect?

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

2 Responses to “What Do You Expect of Members of the Congregation?

  • Jerrie,
    I am late reading this good article. Frankly, I squirmed just a bit in reading it because my heart and mind has lately been a little aggravated at some of my fellow Christians because of their participation in some things we try to do as a congregation. The lack of participation from those who formerly participated is a special “trigger” for my unease.

    Your article reminds me of something about myself that is a true weakness on my part. Namely “low expectations”. We all have to lower expectations sometimes, but not all the time. It seems that your experience visiting that church reveals that expectations can be raised, successfully, to the benefit of all. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jeff,

      I wonder if one of the reasons leaders may be reluctant to communicate challenging expectations to new members is that some of the leaders aren’t living up to these expectations. If we start telling others our expectations, someone may ask, “Why aren’t you doing these things.”

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