To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Church Member First

I think it is essential in the service of the Lord to remember that the “position” that I have through a certain role is kept in the proper perspective. This is done by remembering that I am a church member before I am anything else. If I am a pastor before I am a church member then it is my role which motivates my living and activities.

However, if I am a church member first then it is the sharing of my life as a brother with other brothers and sisters in the Lord which drives my living and activities. So I start out on a level with those in the same church as me. We share the same salvation and life in God. I need them to keep me going in the walk of faith and looking to Jesus Christ. I need them for the encouragement of my soul.

Moreover, if I pastor without this prior awareness then I am very likely to get my pastoring wrong. That applies to whatever role of service you have in the church. The service will become a job and may even became a drudgery. The people I serve will be there to make sure I get my job done, rather than those I want to help see grow in Christ.

Yes there are times when it has to be known for good order that I am an elder in the church at Feltham. But if the first consideration of who I am in the church then everything has gone awry.

The end point to the elder-first thinking is that we become retailers of religious services delivering services as need arises. Rather we need to be leading as sheep among the flock, feeding and living with them in the field of the great Shepherd. This is hinted at when Paul refers to the Thessalonian elders as being among the flock. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 

Moreover I wonder if this is something hinted at when the Lord somewhat enigmatically to my twenty first century ears says:  Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matt. 11:11). No-one had a greater role than John, the forerunner of Messiah. But to be a member of the kingdom comes before that. And we primarily express the reality of our being in the kingdom by sharing in the life of a kingdom manifesting church not in the role we have.

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