Making a Difference in Your Local Church
How can you make a difference in your church? I once asked an ordinary church member (if there is such a person...) this question. His reaction surprised and troubled me. This young man stated that he didn’t think he was in any position to make a difference in his local church. When I asked him why, he answered: "I am not in a position of influence."
It is not that I disagreed with his opinion that some roles in church carry more “can do” potential than others. What shocked me was his total disbelief that every member can actively help build the church of Christ, regardless of ministry or office.
Each member can and should contribute to the unity, health, growth and witness of the church. Church should not just be a place where you come to get something. It is a place where you go to give as well.
So how do you go about doing that? Here are some suggestions. The list is by no means exhaustive. Not all the ideas will match your preference or fit in this season of your life - though some are non-negotiable in my judgment. But hopefully it primes the pump on how you can become a more committed and intentional member of your church.
How can you make a difference in your church?
1. For starters, settle on a church and attend it! This seems self-explanatory, but isn’t. The Body of Christ has too many irregular church attendees and church hopers around. Stop looking for the perfect church.
2. Become a member of that church. Membership shows commitment to God and your fellow believers. You also place yourself under the protective umbrella of its pastoral leadership.
3. Look for ways to become actively involved. Even when you decide not to become a member yet, there are always opportunities for service. The local church should be the go to place for using the spiritual gifts and talents God has given you. It could even be the place where you discover your gifts!
4. Stay at the church as long as you can. Longevity helps in building meaningful and deep relationships; you grow roots. Don't be quick to leave.
5. Pray for the leaders. Exercising spiritual leadership is a dangerous calling and far from easy. Your faithful prayers are a tremendous help and encouragement.
6. Rejoice every time the Gospel is preached. You may not always like the preaching or the teaching. Perhaps it doesn’t scratch where you itch. But is the Gospel preached? Then rejoice!
7. Don’t be glued to tradition. Traditions are not bad. Every church has them. And not every change is for the better. But, like it or not, change is inevitable. Your constructive attitude will go a long way.
8. Build relationships with the children and teens. Teens can be intimidating and children unpredictable. Unfortunately in many churches teens and/or children are seen as an add-on to church ministry. Build bridges! God’s church is an intergenerational church.
9. Reach out to the elderly. Not surprising after reading #8 is it? But seriously, they need you. Many of them are lonely, really lonely. So pay them a visit, call them. Ask how you can pray for them. You will be blessed.
10. Don’t go home right away after the service, but linger and talk. The worship service is just one part of being church - an important one, but not the sum-total. Seek people out, especially the more quiet and new ones. Ask questions and show interest.
11. Commit yourself to at least one church gathering outside of the Sunday service a week, be it a prayer meeting, a small group or Bible study. Body life is more than just Sunday morning. See it as an investment.
12. Dare to be vulnerable. Most of us are uncomfortable with vulnerability. We have carefully constructed layers of protection. But doesn’t it make sense that church should be the place where there is a significant level of transparency? Asking someone to pray for you is a good way to start.
13. Be committed to practicing Matthew 18. So much heartache and pain could be avoided when we would actually obey God’s Word when it speaks about interpersonal conflict. It’s uncomfortable. It can be gut-wrenching, but we’re fools if we think we know better.
14. Be a passionate follower of Christ. The spiritual health of the church is in large part determined by the spiritual health of its individual members.
Building a healthy church is not strictly following a formula. It starts in the hearts of God's people. generated by His Spirit. But although God works in us and through us, He doesn't work instead of us. We need to become actively involved. What a privilege.