Thom Rainer is spot on. (HT: Jorge Acevedo)___
Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.
But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.
Look at some of the direct quotes from exit interviews of people who left local congregations:
- "The worship leader refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted."
- "The pastor did not feed me."
- "No one from my church visited me."
- "I was not about to support the building program they wanted."
- "I was out two weeks and no one called me."
- "They moved the times of the worship services and it messed up my schedule."
- "I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did."
The biblical basis of church membership is clear in Scripture. The Apostle Paul even uses the "member" metaphor to describe what every believer should be like in a local congregation. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul describes church members not by what they should receive in a local church, but by the ministry they should give.
Thom also makes some practical suggestions on how to reverse the country club mentality:
- Inform church members. Though I do not have precise numbers, I would conjecture that more than one-half of church members do not have a biblical understanding about church membership.
- Raise the bar of expectations. We have dumbed down church membership in many congregations to where it has little meaning.
- Train members. Almost 100 percent of pastors agree that their role is to train and equip members.
- Encourage people to be in small groups. Those in Sunday school classes and small groups are more likely to be informed and functioning church members.
More of Thom's wisdom can be read here.