If you are like 60% of the people, you have already made some New Year’s Resolutions. And if you are like 90% of those people, you have already broken at least one of them! One of the most common resolutions we make is to get healthy. Eat right. Get more exercise. Lose weight. You get the idea. “I resolve that I will eat more salad.” And then we make the salad. A bed of lettuce. Add some shredded carrots, onions and a few olives. So far so good. But then comes the bacon, ham, boiled eggs and cheese. And don’t forget to top it off with lots of original Ranch dressing!
The truth is that healthy salads contain healthy ingredients. And unhealthy salads contain unhealthy ingredients. The same is true for churches. Healthy churches have healthy members. And unhealthy churches have unhealthy members. Here are ten resolutions to help you be a healthy church member:
1. I resolve to be a loving church member.
This is foundational. You can not be a healthy church member if you are not a loving church member. Jesus told the church at Ephesus that they had lost their first love (Revelation 2:4). They were doing all of the right things, but they had forgotten why they were doing them. And so he commanded them to remember the love they had at first (v. 5). Healthy churches have healthy members. And you can’t be a healthy church member without love for Jesus. Love for His bride. Love for your neighbors. And love for the nations.
2. I resolve to be a praying church member.
Healthy church members are praying church members. They talk to God. They take seriously Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Over the years I have used various acronyms to guide my prayers. The most common is ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Another is PRAY – Praise, Repent, Ask and Yield. The most important thing is to pray.
3. I resolve to be a worshipping church member.
A healthy church member attends worship services. More importantly a healthy church member engages in worship. According to Brad Waggoner, The Shape of Faith to Come, nearly half of those who attend church admit to just going through the motions of prayer and singing during a worship service. Everything is so familiar. Worship has become routine. We are singing songs instead of singing praise to God. We are repeating words instead of talking to the Creator of the universe! “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving, Make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3).
4. I resolve to be a growing church member.
Brad Waggoner’s study found that systematic engagement with the Bible is the most important determinant of spiritual growth. But only 16% of churchgoers read the Bible daily. No wonder we have so many unhealthy church members!
I have challenged our members to read through the New Testament this year by reading one chapter a day, five days a week. But I want them to do more than read. I want them to engage. So we are using Rick Warren’s SPACE acronym. As they read, I want them to ask God to show them a(n)…
- Sin they need to confess.
- Promise they need to claim.
- Attitude they need to adjust.
- Command they need to obey.
- Example they need to follow.
5. I resolve to be a serving church member.
God places each of us in his body – the church – according to his design (1 Corinthians 12:18). He expects us to serve. He has gifted us to serve. Waggoner’s research found that 70% of evangelical Christians have identified their spiritual gifts. Healthy church members know their gifts and use them in service through the church.
6. I resolve to be a sharing church member.
Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mathew 4:19). Several months ago I wrote an article reminding us that we are Shaped to Share. You don’t have to be a trained and formal evangelist to share the Good News of Jesus. He uses ordinary believers like you and me to advance the gospel. Yet 61% of evangelical Christians have not told anyone about Jesus in the last six months. Resolve this year to be a sharing church member. Identify one person who is far away from God. Begin praying for them. And when the time is right share the gospel with them.
7. I resolve to be a giving church member.
Healthy church members give of their financial resources to support God’s mission through the church. They see giving as an integral part of their discipleship. It is no coincidence that Jesus talked about financial stewardship more than any other topic. I believe that the tithe is God’s standard. That’s ten percent of your income. I also believe that the tithe is a starting point. Healthy church members are incredibly generous. Be a giving church member.
8. I resolve to be a connected church member.
Studies show that church members who are connected with other members in small groups are more likely to be involved than those who are not. They are also less likely to drop out. This is the genius of Sunday School classes. In 2019 make it a priority to get connected.
9. I resolve to be a going church member.
Missions is not just for missionaries. God’s design is for us to live as those who are sent. To be disciples who go and make disciples. Acts 1:8 says that we are to go here, there and everywhere. We are to go to our neighbors. We are to go to the nations. Here is a challenge. I have seen a commitment to missions totally change the culture of a church. I have also seen it totally change the life of a church member. Resolve this year to go on a mission trip. It will change your life.
10. I resolve to be a unifying church member.
Conflict is increasing in our churches. Healthy church members “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Healthy church members “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). There is nothing about a conflicted church that brings glory to God. And there is nothing about a contentious church member that is healthy.
These are ten New Year’s Resolutions that will help you to be a healthy church member. What would you add?