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How to Get the Most Out of Church

“Abide in me, and I in you.” John 15:4

Do you feel like you’re not really a part of things? Like you’re the odd man out? Are you always the fifth wheel, the loner, the misfit, the klutz or maverick? Do you consider yourself overlooked, under-utilized or under-appreciated? Maybe you need to have a basic understanding of how the church works. Jesus set forth the functionality of the church as resembling the vine, branches and fruit in John 15:1-8.

There are definite roles for each operant. Jesus is the Vine (plant, the essence of the tree). God (The Holy Spirit) takes care of the vineyard. We, the individual members are branches that grow out of the vine, we get all our instructions and nutrients from the vine, and we bear (produce) fruit.

Specific expectations and assignments are given to the branches . Branches that don’t bear fruit are taken away. Branches that do produce fruit are purged. Branches that produce fruit are expected to produce even more fruit. Branches are expected to abide (stay plugged in) in the Vine.

God maintains the branches. The Holy Spirit purges the branches, the Word makes the branches clean and branches that don’t produce fruit are cast out. Branches that are cast out wither and are burned.

Good things happen to branches that stay in the vine. According to this illustration, prayers get answered, God gets glorified, we bear much fruit and we will be Christ’s disciples. Let’s now translate this into practical applications.

It is the responsibility of every church member to stay a part of the church and stay involved. It rarely happens by itself. It takes work. How? Attending regularly is a great start. Then, know what is going on. Typical excuses for not knowing are a) “I don’t like announcements!” b) “I don’t care about all the different ministries.” c) “I’m too busy to keep up with everything.” d) “Who’s that?” These statements are telltale signs that a person is unplugged. Electricity only flows through the plugged-in device. You also stay involved by going out of your way to be friendly. You may think, “Nobody talks to me.” Remedy: Talk to them! Talk is more than Hi and Bye. Carry on a conversation. Ask questions. Show interest. If you sit there like the proverbial bump on a log, expect to be treated like one!

When you commit to a ministry, be faithful. Let your leader or your team know if you can’t make it to a practice or an activity. If practice is required, then PRACTICE IS REQUIRED! Your job is not fulfilled by just saying you can’t make it. If you can’t make it, you don’t just forget it. Your job is to take care of the responsibility. Also, recognize that there are qualification requirements to do ministry. At our church, we ask for a six month waiting period because the scriptures teach us not to promote a novice. We require discipleship training. We ask for agreement and alignment with all the expectations of a holiness church. We request a positive and supportive attitude.

Please note: No one has been commissioned to put the church on trial! For example, some may think “I’m not going to show up for a while to see if anyone will notice.” Or, “I’m just going to sit here and count how many people actually come up and speak to me.” Not a good idea. If you want people to know and care about what’s going on in your life, you must originate the communication. Call the pastor. Call the church to make sure the pastor knows. If you want to be missed, do something that truly edifies the church. The branches that produce fruit get missed if they don’t show up!

There are certain responsibilities and obligations toward your local church. a) Take care of your tithes, offerings and financial obligations. (Just as U. S. citizens can’t pay their taxes to Canada just as long as they pay taxes somewhere, so you can’t pay tithes anywhere, just as long as you pay tithes.) b) Speak positive, helpful, encouraging words about the church and its ministries. c) Recruit toward the church, not away from it. e) Grow where you’re planted.

Understand who you are and where your gifts and abilities lie. If you can sing, sing. If you can’t, be content to make a joyful noise in the congregation, without being obnoxious. If you haven’t been asked to sing or play, there may be a reason. (Maybe you really can’t sing or play; maybe you’re not qualified in other ways.) If you have a ministry, let the leader know, but be prepared to have it judged. (1 Corinthians 14:29). Do not attempt to do something you are not equipped to do. (Even a positive mental attitude can’t make up for an abysmal lack of talent.)

Pour yourself into whatever ministry God has given you. Read, study, pray, work. Don’t get frustrated because others don’t have your vision. Don’t whine and complain that nobody cares. If you do your job with excitement and enthusiasm, you will generate interest. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. When you function in the church according to Bible guidelines, you enjoy a beautiful and fulfilling relationship.

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