Chopo Mwanza is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church Riverside in Kitwe, Zambia and this week I’ve been reading and thinking over two relating articles that he has written about people who go to church. I found both articles helpful and so I thought I’d summarise them here.
The title of the first article was “6 Members Who Build Up the Church” but actually, it’s more about who each member can build up the church. How can we be the church we claim to be? There are 5 that I think are particularly helpful to us:
1. The one who attends
- Using Hebrews 10:23-25 as the basis of what he wants to say, Chopo encourages us to remember that the most basic way to build the church is to attend the church. Sounds so simple and yet how often we forget that our attendance actually is more than “going to” but more “being part of”. Chopo says that “there’s something encouraging about knowing a brother or sister is simply going to be present at a church service, and you are going to worship God together.” The simple truth is that attendance is step one. You cannot build others up – encourage them, exhort them, help them and be helped by them, if you’re not meeting with them regularly and faithfully. To use a Biblical metaphor: the sheep that is disconnected from the flock will get picked off by wolves.
Dear church member, church meetings are not about you or your convenience. Build others up by faithful attendance.
2. The one who encourages
- Paul wrote in Colossians 4:8 – “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts”. Paul is writing about a man called Tychicus who ha been sent o the church so that he might be able to encourage them. Don’t we all need encouragement from time to time? I know I do. I’ve often been blessed by the Christain who encouraged me. I’m heading to the football today – Southampton v Everton (BTW .. not my idea!) anyway .. what will 30,000 people be doing from the seats? Encouraging their team on.
Strive to be one the kind of Christian who loos for someone who needs encouragement and give it to them.
3. The one who confronts without indulging gossip
- So let me say this upfront – our church is full of people who struggle with sin. We’re probably more broken than we realise and this kind of sin actually serves as a very great danger to the church. Chopo writes about the unity of the church and how it requires those who call their local church “home” to maintain unity by confronting one another in love and gentleness. The difficulty is that sometimes our hearts want to gossip and slanderer rather than love in gentleness. We must choose to confront sin – ours and each others – but in love and gentleness without gossip and slander. The latter will break the unity that God has established.
Love God and others by confronting sin in love and gentleness.
4. The one who prays
- This word from Chopo is so timely as he writes about Samuels statement to David in 1 Samuel 12:23 – “Far be it from me that I may sin against you by not praying for you”. You know .. the poorest attended meeting of the month in most churches is the prayer meeting. That says a lot about our own hearts. Chopo says that “The best church members are devoted to prayer. They’ve learned to depend on God so they highly value praying to him.”. I can’t agree more. I times I wish my own personal prayer life was better … but I also wish our church prayed better prayers together. Chopo says that Christians who pray are the churches’ unsung heroes and their prayers drive the church. It’s not the Bible teaching of the worship – it’s prayer.
Be the Christian who devotes time to pray with other Christians
5. The one who serves
- Who do you serve your church family? Let me rephrase … how do you love and encourage those around you without any expectation of reward? Chopo right says “attendance is necessary, but members should do more than just attend. They should serve.” This is what Paul meant when he says that the saints should do works of ministry (Ephesians 4:12)/ Using our God-given gifts is not optional but mandatory – Paul writes in Romans 12:6 that we should “use them”. This is a command. Why should we use them? Because the church is not a spectator sport being “done” by a few people. There is not only great encouragement from working as different parts of “the body of Christ” but there is also great reward (even though that’s not the reason we do it). Chopo says that there is “great comfort” “from knowing you have teammates fighting with you and encouraging you as you go”. He goes on to say that “people who are able to but don’t serve in the church tend to discourage the rest of the body.”
Be the Christian who serves out of love to God and love for each other