Have you ever wondered what makes a good church member? Does it even really matter as long as you’re showing up?
Scripture does not teach that only pastors and deacons are to be committed to the health and wholeness of the church. This is why it is important to know how you can be of true benefit to your church as it works to stay healthy and strong.
Hebrews 13:1-17 brings much to light concerning this topic. In the last chapter of the book of Hebrews, the author gives an excellent and thorough description of what it looks like to be a faithful member of the church. While these words were written to persecuted Christians in the first century about their love for one another, all of these truths still apply to us today.
Take a few minutes to read this passage, and then we will take a closer look at what it teaches.
Hebrews 13:1–17 (ESV)
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Within this passage, we find four ways members of a local church can help keep that local body of believers healthy, growing, and strong.
1. Love and serve the Lord Jesus
Just as the church must fall under the lordship of Jesus Christ, so must our individual lives. One specific area of our lives addressed in this reading is our finances. We are to guard against being ruled by the love of money and instead place our hope and trust in the Lord. (v.5)
We are also reminded to stay committed to sound doctrine and to live with an eternal perspective. Jesus, the One who gave His life for us sacrificially, has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and worthy of our worship and praise. (v.8-15)
2. Love and serve spiritual leaders
Have you ever asked yourself what it is like to lead you? Would your pastors and deacons be able to say they enjoy watching over you? When you find yourself in disagreement with leadership, and if so, do you handle it in a God-honoring way? Both verses 7 and 17 serve as reminders of how we are called to honor those who serve in leadership within our churches. We are to look to them and learn from them. As we imitate their faith, we are to also submit to their leadership.
3. Love and serve fellow members
Within our churches, there is to be an abiding sense of brotherly love. (v.1) We are to continually look out for one another, tangibly caring for the body of Christ and doing good wherever we see a need we can meet. (v.16)
Verse four fits into this category of loving and serving our fellow members, as well. A God honoring marriage does not only impact your household. Our morality in all areas of our lives affects the church. Remember, we are a body. Our lives are intricately interconnected as we worship and serve alongside one another. So, when we make God-honoring choices in our personal lives and relationships, we are actually loving our church well at the same time.
4. Love and serve all others
Not only are we to meet needs within our church, but we are also to do good in our communities and the world at large. (v. 16) The church as a whole is to be mission-minded, and so are we as individuals. We are called to minister to the lost, the vulnerable, and the hurting. (v. 2-3)
In summary, I would say be the kind of church member who, when your life is over, your pastor can say it was a joy to lead you. Your brothers and sisters can say it was a joy to serve Jesus beside you. People who were vulnerable and hurting can say that when they were in need, and you had the opportunity, you helped them. And all who knew you can say you built your life on the truth of the gospel.
These are the things that make for a faithful member, and I pray reading about them spurs you on to love and serve your local church.