Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What Is a Healthy Church Member?

by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
127 pages / 2008

Why a whole book on this subject? In the introduction, the author himself acknowledges that the healthy church member is essentially a healthy Christian. Well, doesn't the Belgic Confession define the marks of the true Christian fully enough in Article 29 (read the fourth paragraph of this link)?

Well, can we ever know enough about being not only a true Christian, but a Christian who shows himself or herself healthy enough to be used, by the grace of God, to build up a healthy church?

The first nine marks of Thabiti Anyabwile's profile of a healthy church are the other side of the coin's profile of a healthy church, which are developed in the 9Marks series from Crossway. For instance, a healthy church has expositional preaching (what the Belgic Confession calls "the pure preaching of the gospel") and so should have members who are expositional listeners, who are willing to be taught, to talk about the sermon with others, and to apply what they have learned to their own lives. Various other titles in this series deal with other marks of a healthy church - Biblical theology; Biblical understanding of the gospel, conversion, and evangelism; and Biblical practices regarding church membership, church discipline, discipleship, and church leadership. Each of these has its counterpart in the healthy church member.

Anyabwile discusses how a healthy church member is a Biblical theologian - eager to know the whole counsel of God in both Old and New Testament, and with Christ in view in both Testaments. He shows how a healthy church member is saturated with, yearning for, and protective of the Biblical gospel; how such a member shows the marks of genuine conversion, including love for God the Father and for other believers, as well as the work of the Spirit in his heart and life; and how such a member understands the need for others' conversion and hence is eager for evangelism because of the sin in all of us that requires the work of Christ and the cleansing power of the Spirit.

Just as a healthy church seeks much from its members in their service to God and their neighbour, so healthy church members are committed to the good of the church. Such members thus welcome the discipline of the church for both themselves and other members, and want to grow spiritually and help and urge others to grow spiritually through the means of grace (preaching and the sacraments). Finally, a healthy church has faithful leadership and thus also has members who are humble followers.

Anyabwile adds one characteristic to the nine we have looked at. If a church and its members are to be spiritually (or even physically) healthy, such strength can only ultimately come from God Himself. Hence a healthy church member must, and eagerly will, seek God's help by being "A Prayer Warrior."

What Is a Healthy Church Member? would be an excellent book study for leadership training, and for every church member who cares as much for the Body of Christ - the church - as for Christ the Head
of the church. If you believe that Anyabwile's book can give you a better understanding of what promotes healthy church membership, you can get it at Amazon.com here and Amazon.ca here.

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