Ask not what your church can do for you…

ask not

On a sunny, but brisk January afternoon in 1961, 43 year old John F. Kennedy stood on the eastern portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The newly elected president had just been sworn into office by Chief Justice Earl Warren. He stood before a nation energized by his youth and entranced by his charisma.

In the concluding remarks of his inaugural address, President Kennedy spoke words which have echoed down to our day: “And so my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Recently I read an interesting little book by the author Thom S. Rainer called I Am a Church Member. The book proposes that much of the decline in Christian churches today can be traced back to a basic misunderstanding of what it means to be a member of a Christian church.

Many people today look for churches that will give them what they need or want. For them, being a member of a church is like joining a country club. You pay your dues and then you enjoy the privileges. The church serves you. The choir sings to you. The pastor preaches to you and your needs.

If the church isn’t meeting your needs, if the music isn’t inspiring enough for you, if the pastor doesn’t give you what you are looking for, then you look for another church which will.

Is that what it means to be a member of a church?

When the Bible talks about joining together with other Christians as a church, it usually doesn’t talk about what you get out of it, but rather what you give. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

As Christians, we follow the example of our Savior “who did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). When we truly grasp God’s grace – when we see and appreciate his sacrifice and love and forgiveness – then we will willingly want to serve him and others with thankful hearts.

My fellow Christians: ask not what your church can do for you – ask what you can do for your church.

We don’t go to church just to get, but also to give – to serve our Savior God and others out of love and thanks for all that God has given us. Being a member of a church means more than just parking your posterior in the pew on Sunday. Don’t just go to church. Be the church. Participate. Serve. Give.

And the amazing thing is, as you do, you too will be blessed. There is no “I” in team, but there is a “u” in church. As you serve God and others in church, as you participate in worship, as you hear God’s Word and receive his Sacraments, you too will be encouraged. You will be strengthened. You will be blessed. As you give, God promises you will also receive. Being a member of a church means serving and being served.

Remember that this Sunday as you go to church. I am not here primarily for me. I am here first and foremost to thank my Savior God for all his blessings. I am here to encourage and serve my fellow believers. And the amazing thing is I will be blessed as I do.

What does being a member of a church mean to you? Leave a comment below and let us know. Thanks!

  6 comments for “Ask not what your church can do for you…

  1. Kathy Spears
    September 24, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Hi, I recently sent you an email regarding my niece Heather Spears Kallus and her ‘Sips of Sunshine” and told her to check out your blog, that ya’ll both had such great writings. She signed up and actually posted some of your words on her blog today. Check it out, iam sure you will enjoy.

    Thanks and will continue reading your great posts- Kathy Spears

    • schroera
      September 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Thanks! For some reason I didn’t get the e-mail, but I’ll check her blog out today. God bless!

  2. Daniel Baker
    December 21, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    “We don’t go to church primarily to get, but to give.”

    This is a most unfortunate fallacy, one that would have the blessed Reformers rolling in their graves. As they penned in the great Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

    “Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure [“the promise of God, in which, for Christ’s sake, the remission of sins and justification are freely offered”]. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ.

    And the difference between this faith and the righteousness of the Law can be easily discerned. Faith is the latreiva [divine service], which receives the benefits offered by God; the righteousness of the Law is the latreiva [divine service] which offers to God our merits. By faith God wishes to be worshiped in this way, that we receive from Him those things which He promises and offers” (IV:48-49).

    • schroera
      December 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Yeah, I should change that statement. I was trying to point out the error of just going to church for me and what I get out of it, but you’re right. I overstated my case. I’m going to fix it. Thanks!

      • GK
        August 13, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        Please don’t change your statement. You didn’t overstate your case at all. Its the hyper-Calvinist gentlemen who is the one guilty of overstatement. I wonder if he gives financially to support his church or would he seek an excuse from his illustrious Reformers? Certainly the Reformers intended that all that we give to God is merely an offering back to Him of what we have already received from Him. Paul makes the point in Romans 11:35, “Who has given to the Lord that He should repay him?” This is not an argument against giving to God as the gentlemen is chiding you for, but merely an acknowledgement that when we give to God in fact we are actually only giving back what He has given us. Again Paul over the Reformers encourages assembled believers to come with a gift for the encouragement of one another–for example “a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue” etc (1 Cor. 14:26).

  3. March 21, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for this post, Andrew! As you know, our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook began with the hope and prayer of drawing people to the church through our writings and drawing churches into loving relationships with one another in the Body of Christ. To encourage others to read this, I’ll highlight your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – God bless.

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