Thanks much to Peggy Wiley and the Grove bookstore for bringing this lovely book to my attention. When I bought it we were still entrenched in the routine of 20 year membership and in our home of 18 years and things were about to change; big time.
The faithfulness of the Holy Spirit’s prompting meant this book was on our shelves as I struggled with the decision to change out of a local church, and a lifelong denominational affiliation, into the unknown expanse of God’s much larger Kingdom. This book has comforted me greatly as I soaked in thinking through what we were looking for in a church, and why. With the subtitle A Member’s Guide to the Local Church it is set up to be a reference and handbook for dealing with the long term issues of rooting in a local church from the perspective of what membership can look like as a reflection of our commitment to Christ. There are study questions at the end of each chapter for group discussions and personal application.
Wayne A. Mack and Dave Swavely are truly pastors with hearts for the people of their respective churches and the broader, common, concerns of any local church. A forward by John MacArthur precedes the introduction and 10 practical chapters beginning with explanations of why church membership is important and the commitment is a good one. Chapter 3 address criteria for choosing a “Good Church” while 4 has advice for establishing relationships with the leadership. The roles of men and women, within the reformed tradition where both men serve, are explained from a solid biblical perspective and should help with an otherwise confusing conversation.
The next chapters discuss responsibility of members to prepare for and participate in Worship, the work of the church both physically and spiritually. There is a whole chapter on conflict resolution and another on preserving unity. All of which are based on biblical principles and are useful to helping members stay for the “long haul.”
The very best section, however, is the final chapter on Prayer. Set up to be a guide for praying specifically for your church, the authors use many new testament passages including Romans 1:8-12, Ephesians 1:15-19, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12 as models and take a step by step approach through these prayers pointing out specific requests that apply to any church. Their conclusion, “The greatest need (of our churches today) is for people who will pray biblically, unceasingly, and powerfully.”
Perhaps because of the emphasis on prayer by the church to which we have been led, this final chapter confirmed for me all the ways God lights my path before I even know I’m walking in the dark. This has been a book I’m glad to have read so that I can use it, and recommend it.
Blessings for the lights on your path to be just where you need them and remind you of His constant love and faithfulness.