Are You a Member or an Owner?

Earlier this year, I visited a newer church plant. I was there to support a child I teach in AWANA for her baptism. It happened to be the same weekend they were dedicating their new church building. A statement the pastor made to his congregation has stuck with me. So much so, that I am still thinking about it months later. At the moment he said it, I wrote it down in the notes on my phone. He said,
“I do not call you members, but instead I call you owners. Members have privileges, but owners have responsibilities.”
Simple, yet so profound.
Think of it this way; if you belong to a country club (or even your local pool), you are considered a member. You pay your way in (some sort of initiation fee) and you have to keep paying a monthly or annual fee until you stop your membership. All you are required to do is pay and show up when you feel like it. Once there, you are served, and never asked to clean the pool, mow the grass, wash the windows, work in the childcare facility, or cook in the kitchen. All you do is show up, use the facilities, and hopefully follow some simple rules. And then you leave. You aren’t even required to lock up the place.
However, the owner of that place is required to take care of the members. The member expects the owner to fulfill their obligation to maintain the place, make sure there is enough employees on staff to care for the member’s needs, come up with activities, and lock the place up when they leave.
As Christ followers, some have assumed a member position instead of an ownership position not only in the Kingdom, but also within their respective local churches. It is true that many members make up the body (1 Corinthians 12:12), but as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), we are co-laborers serving and doing the work to reach the lost.
If our churches and God’s people have a member mentality versus an owner mentality, service will be subjugated to duty instead of an overflow of the gratefulness of grace.
As a member, you feel as though you are owed something, but as an owner, you do what you can to protect your asset. When we only show up when it is convenient or when we want to, our attitude and our deeds reflect our heart. When so much of our energy is expended on members, how will we have the energy to serve the lost and those in need? While it is true that healthy owners might need assistance from time to time, they won’t require it all of the time.
​Churches aren’t meant to be country clubs. So then how can we become owners in the Kingdom instead of members? Claim your inheritance! As believers in Christ, you have a place in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ. You are a member of the Church, but only one person is worthy of being served…God the Father. We all fall short of His glory and if Jesus came to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28), then you and I certainly don’t do enough serving. If we all did just a little, the Church would look a whole lot different.
Jesus said, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:9-13).

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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