I'm a church member before I'm a church pastor. I will always be a member of a church in this life. I won't always be a pastor if I live long enough. I've been a member of First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower in Southeast Los Angeles County for 2 years as of yesterday. [Update: the church has been renamed Bethany Baptist Church] On November 1st is my 2 year anniversary as pastor. I joined the church as soon as I was released from my previous church membership, even before I started as the pastor the following week. Why? Not because I was impatient. I wanted to make a point. I'm fundamentally a church member. And that is more important.
But I'm a particular kind of church member. I'm a church mover. I strongly desire to move my local church toward health. Some think it's because I'm a pastor. It's quite the opposite. I'm a pastor because I'm a church mover.
The church has moved. It's changed. I've changed. God's been working on us. God streams mercy and it hasn't ceased. We have laughed and cried, sinned and extended forgiveness, grown and hit snags. God mercifully led some of the members of my former church to join us here. New members trickle in. Many of my closest and dearest friends are now these saints who joined this church before and after me. We're assigned to the same unit for the King and the advance of his kingdom. I thank God because a few of these dearest friends are not only church members. They're church movers.
What is a Church Mover?
What is a church mover? A church mover is someone who obsessively moves his church towards Christ Jesus and all he wants the church to be. What are some traits of a church mover? Here are 5 that come to mind. (In the following I use the generic "he" but there are sisters who are church movers too)
[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles="true" remove_hidden_hashtags="true" remove_hidden_urls="true"]A church mover is someone who obsessively moves his church towards Christ Jesus and all Jesus wants the church to be.[/tweetthis]
Member of a church
A church mover is first of all a church member. A church member is someone who publicly and formally takes responsibility for the discipleship of everyone else in the church, both individually and corporately. Those who won't formally commit to the church deny themselves the privilege of moving the church.
Supports and Spurs on Leaders
God commands us to submit to and obey our leaders so that they lead us with joy (Hebrews 13.17). Why? It's an advantage to the rest of the church. So a church mover supports the leaders. He strengthens the leaders. He encourages the leaders. He spurs the leaders on to growth and excellence. This means that he will also hold the leaders accountable. He'll challenge the leaders when necessary. And he knows the church is better because of it.
A Sense of Responsibility
A church mover has a deep sense of responsibility for the church gatherings as a host. The problems are his problems. The guests are his guests. He feels the happy burden of engaging those in need. He also has a sense of responsibility to pray for, get to know, and seek to serve every other member as opportunities present themselves. He remembers his commitment to their discipleship.
Full Participation in Church Polity
A church mover is not passive. He doesn't forget about congregational meetings where decisions are made and direction is set. He is not oblivious to the responsibilities of the members or the congregation as a whole. He knows how the congregation and members are to support and work with the leaders. And he's all in.
But why is he so obsessed with moving his church?
His Main Drive: A Church-Centered Conviction.
The local church is the center of God’s activity, presence, and truth (Eph 3:10, 1 Cor 3:16-17, 1 Tim 3:15). That’s why church movers believe the best way to change the world is to move the church. We can call this "a peculiar and biblical sense that the local church is central to God's activity in the world today." The church is the center of the world today. The center. Not the goal. The goal is missions. The great commission. Yet, we must understand the place of the church in the Christian's life and community, the broader Christian community, and the world.
The church is the communal center of the Christian's life. Not her family. Not his marriage. The church family. She understands being a good member of her household trains and equips her to better serve the church family. It's not an issue of choosing between the two but understanding God's purposes for the institution of the family and the institution of the local church.
The church family is at the center of the gospel meeting the unbelieving world. The neighborhood is best served by evangelists (gospelizers). But a gospelizer understands he must also tangibly love his neighbor. He also knows that glimpses of the shared life of the church family validates the gospel they preach (John 13:34-35, 17:21). So he understands his church's witness is crucial to the spread of the gospel in his community.
The local church is the center of effecting the broader Christian culture. The church mover knows that the broader Christian community is best effected by healthy churches since the Christians that make up a local church is the center of community and evangelism. Therefore, the church is more important than websites, podcasts, denominations, and networks. It's more important than him edifying his other Christian friends from other churches. If one wants to best serve the broader church and Christians everywhere, a church mover understands the best way for him to do this is to move his church members toward Christian maturity.
The local church is central to missions. The church's mission is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28.19-20). Every ethnic people group needs the gospel. So, they need churches that are missions-minded, prayerful, generous, and cooperating with other churches to get the gospel to every tribe and language. One missionary said that health is crucial for churches in the United States for world missions because we hold the rope for our missionaries we send to the frontier of missions.
Christian friend, be a church mover, and move your church toward Jesus Christ by your love, life, and opportunities. Jesus gave you to your church family (Eph 4:7-10). And he gave them to you sealed in his propitiatory blood. What a gift and kindness! God graciously desires we go deeper with him as we share his love in the church and through the church to our neighbors and the nations. He’s so good to us in Christ!
Two years down. Many more to go if the Lord wills. I pray our church continues to move. To change. I desire to see all the churches in Los Angeles steadily moving toward Christ Jesus and church health. I'm giving my life to this. That doesn’t come about only by having faithful pastors, but faithful members. And not only faithful members, but church movers.
Question: What do you think of this label: Church Mover? Do you find it helpful? Do you have an obsessive fire in your soul to see your church moving toward Christ Jesus and his desires for your church?
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