Are You a Church Member or a Church Mover?
P.J. TIBAYAN | MARCH 5, 2019 | 3 MIN READ
Before I consider myself the pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Southeast Los Angeles, I consider myself a church member. Why? Because I believe that my identity as a church member is more important than my title as a pastor.
I also believe that I’m a particular kind of church member: I’m a church mover. A church mover strongly desires to move his or her local church toward health by edifying and gospelizing its members. Some think I desire this because I’m a pastor. It’s quite the opposite. I’m a pastor because I’m a church mover.
Church movers don’t have to be or become pastors. But all church movers are on the same, active missionary team for the King and the advancement of his kingdom. Here are 5 characteristics of a church mover.
1. Member of a Church
First, a church mover is a church member. A church member is someone who publicly and formally takes responsibility for the discipleship of everyone else in the church, both individually and corporately. Those who won’t formally commit to the church deny themselves the privilege of moving the church. This is the responsibility of every Christian.
2. Supports and Spurs on Leaders
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17)
God commands us to submit to and obey our leaders so that they lead us with joy. Why? It’s “profitable” to the rest of the church. When leaders are joyless and burdened with unnecessary grief from unsupportive members, they are tempted to find their joy in manipulating or disengaging from their members.
Therefore, a church mover supports the leaders. He strengthens and encourages pastors (elders). He spurs the leaders on to growth and excellence, holding them accountable and challenging the leaders when necessary. Church movers know the church is better because of it.
3. A Sense of Responsibility
A church mover has a deep sense of responsibility to act as a host for the church. The church’s problems are her problems. The guests are her guests. She feels the happy burden of engaging those in need. She also has a sense of responsibility to pray for, get to know, and seek to serve every other member as opportunities present themselves (Hebrews 10:24-25). Church movers remember this practical commitment to everyday discipleship.
4. Full Participation in Church Polity
A church mover is not passive. He doesn’t forget about congregational meetings where decisions are made and direction is set. He is not oblivious to the responsibilities of the members or the congregation as a whole. He knows how the congregation and members are to support and work with the leaders. And he’s all in.
5. A Church-Centered Conviction
The local church is the center of God’s activity, presence, and truth (Ephesians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 3:15). That’s why church movers believe the best way to change the world is to move the church.
Church movers believe that the church is the communal center of the Christian’s life, the church family is at the center of the Gospel meeting the unbelieving world, the local church is the center of affecting the broader Christian culture, and the local church is central to missions.
This core belief of the church mover drives her to love and serve the church more and more. The church is not an additional responsibility or extra program. This conviction moves us toward loving Christians and those not yet Christian through the church family.
Christian friend, be a church mover, and move your church toward Jesus Christ by your love, life, and opportunities. Jesus gave you to your church family (Ephesians 4:7-10). And he gave them to you sealed in his propitiatory blood. What a gift and kindness! God graciously desires we go deeper with him as we share his love in the church and through the church to our neighbors and the nations. He’s so good to us in Christ!
Four years down. Many more to go if the Lord wills. I pray our church continues to move. To change. I desire to see all the churches steadily moving toward Christ Jesus and church health. I’m giving my life to this. That doesn’t come about only by having faithful pastors, but faithful members. And not only faithful members, but church movers.
P.J. Tibayan is a pastor-theologian of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, CA, where he lives with his God-fearing and beautiful wife and their five children. He writes at gospelize.me and helps lead The Gospel Coalition LA Regional Chapter and the Shepherd LA Conference (for pastors). He is currently a doctoral student (DMin) in Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary working on the book of Revelation.