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                      "SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CHURCH!"


1. The title for our lesson was adapted from that of a movie starring
   James Garner ("Support Your Local Sheriff!") made in 1969...

2. In most congregations, there are varying degrees of  commitment among
   the members...
   a. The faithful few who can always be counted on to do whatever is
   b. The fairly faithful who attend somewhat regularly, but are not as
   c. The C&E group who attend only on Christmas, Easter, and other
      special days
   d. Then there is the FPO group (using a church for funeral purposes

3. Membership in the body of Christ has many blessings...
   a. A relationship with Jesus Christ and all that entails
   b. But there are also responsibilities incumbent upon the members
      - e.g., Ep 4:25

[What are our responsibilities as members of the body of Christ?  In
particular, what are our duties to one another as members of a local
church?  Let's first review the concept of...]


      1. That is, the body of Christ, made up all the saved
      2. The church of which Jesus spoke in Mt 16:18
      3. One is added by the Lord to the church universal when they are
         saved - cf. Ac 2:41,47
      -- Membership in the universal church is automatic upon one's

      1. That is, a local group of Christians who function together as a
      2. We read of such churches in the New Testament - cf. 1Co 1:2;
         Ro 16:16
      3. One joins a local church when they seek to work with other
         Christians - cf. Ac 9:26-28
      -- Membership in the local church is by mutual agreement among

      1. Can one just have a "floating membership" without joining a
         particular congregation?
      2. The mere provision of local churches in God's Word implies...
         a. A divine purpose for the local church
         b. A corresponding responsibility of Christians to avail
            themselves of it
      -- The idea of becoming a Christian and never a part of a local
         congregation is foreign to the Scriptures

[Membership in the church universal comes with responsibilities toward
other Christians.  Let's now consider our...]


      1. Concern for one another - 1Co 12:25-26
      2. Humility, lowliness of mind - Php 2:3
      3. A peaceable spirit - Ro 14:17-19
      4. Appreciation for others and their work - e.g., 1Th 1:2-3
      5. Willingness to cooperate, work together - 1Co 12:21
         a. "It marks a big step in a man's development when he comes to
            realize that other men can be called on to help him do a
            better job than he can do alone." - Andrew Carnegie
         b. "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is
            progress, working together is success." - ibid.
      6. Friendliness, warmth - cf. Phm 1:7
      7. Gentleness, meekness - Ga 6:1
      8. Forbearance, longsuffering, patience - Col 3:12-13
      9. Forgiveness - Col 3:13
     10. Love - Jn 13:34-35
      -- Such attitudes will insure that involvement in a local church
         will be a great blessing!

      1. Seek to join oneself with a faithful congregation (place
         membership) - cf. Ac 9:26
         a. Drifters, "floating members", "members at large", are
            missing an important aspect of what it means to be a
         b. The same goes for passive "spectators", those "just along
            for the ride", "permanent visitors"
         c. One places membership with the intent of being an actual,
            functioning member - not a mere appendage to the body
         d. It involves making real commitments to the group to work and
      2. Attend and participate in the assemblies of the congregation
         - cf. He 10:24-25
         a. The Christian enjoys and benefits from private and family
            worship, but must not neglect God's provision for
            collective, congregational worship and Bible study
         b. Every aspect of our assemblies is vital to the Christian
            1) The Lord's Supper - Ac 2:42; 20:7; 1Co 11:17-34
            2) Praying - Ac 2:42; 4:23-31; 12:12
            3) Singing - Ep 5:19; Col 3:16
            4) Preaching and teaching - Ac 20:7
            5) Giving as we have been prospered - 1Co 16:1-2; 2Co 8,9
         c. Our assemblies provide opportunities for three different
            levels of involvement:
            1) Providing for the assembly - cleaning the building,
               preparing the communion trays, leading in the service,
            2) Attendance at the assembly - attending every service is
               critical to the overall growth and health of the
               congregation (let alone self!)
            3) Participation in the assembly - to the extent of one's
               a) Worship is not a spectator activity
               b) The crucial question is not "How did the preacher or
                  song leader do?", but "How did I do?"
               c) If one can do no more than listen, then listen in a
                  manner that shows reverence and respect to God's Word!
                  - cf. Ac 17:11
         d. Assembling together is not merely a routine to perform, but
            a God-given provision for our spiritual good
            1) Quibbles and questions about whether we have to,
               complaints, neglects, etc., reveal an attitude of taking
               lightly the opportunity for Christians to be together
            2) God wants to give us something in our assemblies - our
               involvement or lack thereof reveals much about whether we
               desire to accept what God has for us!
            3) To minimize this aspect of Christianity jeopardizes not
               only one's own soul, but the souls of others!
      3. Engage personally and directly in the work of the congregation
         a. Evangelism - e.g., Ac 8:4
         b. Edification - Ro 14:19
         c. Benevolence - Ac 2:44-45; 4:34-35
      4. Contribute financially to the work of the congregation - 1Co 
         16:1-2, 2Co 9:6-7
      5. Pray for other Christians, especially those of one's own
         congregation - e.g., Col 4:12
      6. Help maintain unity in the congregation - 1Co 1:10; Ro 15:5-7;
         Ep 4:1-3
      7. Participate in the discipline of the congregation, both
         instructive as well as corrective - 1Co 5:1-13; Ga 6:1-2; 2 Th
      8. Extend courtesy and hospitality - Ro 12:13; 1Pe 4:9
      9. Find an individual role and fill it - Col 4:17; 2Ti 4:5
     10. Submit to the congregation's elders - 1Th 5:12,13; He 13:7,17
      -- Such action steps will greatly increase one's level of
         involvement in a local church


1. Too often, churches are like football games...
   a. The players on the field could use a rest from their exertion
   b. The spectators in the stands need to exercise more

2. Churches likewise have "players" and "spectators"...
   a. The players are active members, faithfully supporting their local
   b. The spectators are members who benefit while expecting others to
      carry the load

3. Do we really love and appreciate the church of our Lord...?
   a. For which He shed His blood? - cf. Ac 20:28
   b. Then let us fulfill our responsibilities to the church, both
      universal and local!

Support your local church by being an active and involved member.  Not
only will you bless others in doing so, but you will be richly blessed
in return...!

   "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which
   you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the
   saints, and do minister."
                                                            - He 6:10
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