Qualifications for Good Members
Rev. T.F. Tenney
Often we speak of the qualifications for the ministry. Instantly we charge to I Timothy 3 and ferret out the structured structure for bishops and deacons. But wait a minute. What makes just good, plain church members? There are qualifications for this high office. I have often said that I am a Christian, a preacher and an official, in that order, My first priority is to be a good Christian, a good member of the church of the living God.
In the October 1983 issue of Family magazine, Paul Murray gave some qualifications for good members that I thought was most-interesting.
I want to use some of his observations, plus my own. Let’s journey along and see if the question can be answered.
1. Worshipping regularly with God’s people . . . It was Jesus’ custom
(Luke 4:16) and the practice of the early church (Acts 2:44). It is
something we should not neglect. (Hebrews 10:24-25) No doubt there is
no substitute for coming together on a regular, orderly basis and
lifting up our hands and voices together to the glory of God.
2. Reading the Bible daily . . . Scripture is like milk to a baby (I
Peter 2:2-3), staple food for an adult (Matthew 4:4) and like breath
itself (II Timothy 3:16). There you have it. Babies need milk, adults
need stronger food and all of us need breath. The study of God’s Word
is imperative, but it is surprising to know how many of God’s people do
not regularly, devotionally read the Word of God. Milk is good, but
that is baby food. It is something that has come through the digestive
system of another . . . the cow. You need to dig into the word for
3. Praying continually . . . We know this is important but check Mark
1:35, Philippians 4:6, I Thessalonians 5:17. It goes without saying,
if we don’t pray, God won’t answer. John Wesley said, “God will do
nothing on earth except in answer to believing prayer.”
4. Belonging to a small group . . . For some of us our churches
are small groups. Mr. Murray points out here that the intimate
Christian fellowship just cannot occur in the huge Sunday morning
assembly. The early churches went from house to house, (Acts 2:46)
fitting, together their spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:15-16) and bearing
one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2). Christians need to have
fellowship with one another, even outside the church assembly. These
should not be gossip sessions, but times of mutual edification. Can
you remember the day when the old time saints would not leave a
friend’s house after a visit without kneeling for prayer?
5. Discerning God’s will for His people is another benchmark for
the making of a good saint. No, it’s not up to you alone, but you are
part of the process of the people of God seeking His will. You are one
of the “two or three gathered in His name . . . ” (Matthew 18:20) who
send out missionaries (Acts 13:2) and test the spirits (I John 4:1).
6. Serving one another . . . May God give us a servant’s heart.
This office of a servant is about the only one our Lord really trusted
us to fill. It may be easy to get someone to sing a solo in the choir,
but who is going to cut the lawn and care for the nursery? Mr. Murray
further observed that we’d best use our gifts to show our love for each
other (John 13:34-35; Romans 12:6 & 8).
7. Giving to God’s work . . . This really makes good members. “Bring ye
all the tithes into the storehouse. ” Paul urged the Corinthians to
set their gift aside (I Corinthians 16:2). Good members faithfully pay
tithes to their pastor or local assembly and give to the furtherance of
God’s work. They know that God loves a cheerful . . . hilarious . . .
giver (II Corinthians 9:6-8). I’ve seen very few people fall out in
hilarious laughter when someone said, “We’re going to receive the
8. Witnessing to God’s love . . . The bottom line of any church is that
we are seeking to save that which is lost. Our Lord told us we would
receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come on us and we would
also be witnesses. How long has it been since you have led a soul to
Christ’s love through your local assembly.
9. Living a holy life . . . Murray says the Christian life is less
about doing than being. Holiness is about because being different God
is in you. This may clash with the world and its values, but in loving
defiance we must go Christ’s way (Matthew 5:13; Romans 12:1-2;
Galatians 5:22-24). Yes, you’d better believe we need saints who live
on the outside what they testify about on the inside. We need this
holy defiance of the world system. Jerome said, “if offense come out
of truth, it is better that offense come than that truth be concealed.”
There you have it. Just plain old, good church members, praying, fasting, worshiping, loving God, faithful, and loyal to their pastor and local assembly. You can’t beat that combination.