Multiplication Center

Day 3 of 18 to “Write” a Book

July 23, 2010

I’m continuing my book-writing marathon. See Day 1 and Day 2. Here was my biggest “Aha!” during yesterday’s writing session. It deals with words, even Biblical words like member, as in “we are members of Christ’s body” (Eph. 5:30) or “we are members of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19). 


Amex rewards 3. Our surrounding culture sends lots of messages that affect how people think -– church leaders included. So it’s very important to understand what your congregation means when its various individuals hear and use certain words like membership and volunteer. If they’ve heard “membership has its privileges” all week from American Express ads, won’t that influence how they feel about church membership? If they just got recruited for a neighborhood service project by hearing the oft-used pitch that “in volunteer work the dividends are always greater than the investment,” won’t that color the expectations they bring to volunteering at church?

The point we’re developing is that the meaning of these words has changed over time. They no longer communicate what they used to.

One outcome, we regret, is that faith in Christ is not perceived as an active lifestyle that one attempts to live out every day in all one’s actions. Rather, faith has become something that one can assent to but does not live, believe but does not follow, and belong to but does not support or participate in.

We probably all agree that Jesus didn’t recruit volunteers or members; he called people to be his disciples. Yet most people in our churches are drawn to terms like volunteer and member, and to understandings of them that are far below what the Bible instructs.

What do YOU think? What terms do YOU use that work in today’s culture to represent the process of sanctification, growing in grace, building one’s faith, maturing spiritually and becoming more like Christ?


Warren Bird small Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation.

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