I Am A Church Member Review

IAmAChurchMember_R2.inddAfter reading many positive posts and comments about the highly endorsed Thom Rainer book I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the DifferenceI bought a copy and gave it a read.  Given the title and intent of the book, the book nailed it! But…yes, there is a “but”…the book could have hit a grand slam instead of just a home run.

First off, the praise.  As a person who has been in full time ministry for about a decade – as a church planter and as an elder – the contents of the book came as a fresh ocean breeze addressing some of the difficult attitudes people have regarding being a member of a church.  Thankfully, since planting a church on a college campus and another church in a nearby community, by the grace of God, we have not had to deal with many situations such as described in the book.  Namely, self-serving attitudes better fit for country club than for a member of the body of Christ (to use Rainer’s metaphor).  To have an assembly of people who lovingly declare the chapter titles would be dream.  Just imagine a congregation declaring, “I will be a functioning church member.  I will be a unifying church member.  I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires.  I will pray for my church leaders.  I will lead my family to be healthy  church members.  I will treasure church membership as a gift.”

The beauty of a church standing together with the attitudes demonstrated in I am a Church Member is not one of control for the leadership or to have a mindless, Borg-like congregation.  Rather, the beauty is one of power for the kingdom of God.  A group of people sold out for Jesus and for one another.  The impact and testimony to the community would be amplified to God’s glory.  The church would become a magnet.

The beauty and power of the potential of a church being like-minded as described in the book, is what I find to be the weakness of I am a Church Member.  The final chapter started to go in this direction but stopped short.  If Thom Rainer were to write another book, I am a Church Member, Part 2, I would love to see him present the flip-side to each chapter.  Maybe something like the following:

Chapter 1: I Will Be a Functioning Church Member and the Church Will Intentionally Seek to Help Develop My Functioning.

Chapter 2: I Will Be a Unifying Church Member and the Church Will Help Me When I Struggle with Unity

Chapter 3: I Will Not Let My Church Be about My Preferences and Desires and the Church Will Constructively Communicate its Vision and Mission

Chapter 4: I Will Pray for My Church Leaders and My Church Leaders Will Pray for Me

Chapter 5: I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members and the Church Will Provide Community Opportunities to Support My Labor

Chapter 6: I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift and the Church Will Treasure Me as a Gift

Now, I understand and would hope that they hypothetical Part 2 would be written in a way that would not undermine the original book’s message.  Part 2 would be more of the carrot to assist the congregation in seeing the power and joy that comes with serving the church as part of a community.  I am a Church Member helps hold a mirror up to our often self-centered hearts, but the unwritten Part 2 could act like a painting of what could be if we allow the grace of God to operate in our hearts to live out the attitudes presented in I am a Church Member.

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