Most people recognise that joining a local church means committing to it in some way. But what does it mean in practice to commit to the local church? Here are some key things.
Commit to being present
At the most basic level, it means simply being around. The Bible tells us not to neglect the meeting together of ourselves so it hardly screams deep commitment if you are never at the gathering of the local church you have joined. At a bare minimum, this means being consistently present on a Sunday when your church happens to meet.
But church is about far more than what you do on a Sunday. Committing to being present doesn’t merely mean turning up to a morning meeting and then never seeing anybody until next week where you do more of the same. If the church is the people, and we are committed to a particular group of people, then it follows that we will want to spend time with them. Our presence is the most obvious and clear way we commit to our church.
Commit to praying
Certainly, prayer meetings are a great place to pray with the Lord’s people. So, if your church has a regular prayer meeting, committing to praying in the prayer meeting is a great thing to do. But whether there is a regular prayer meeting or not, commitment to a local church should involve regular prayer for that church.
It is a sign of our love for others when we pray for them. We are seeking the Lord’s involvement in the lives of those we care about. If your church (specifically the people who make it up) aren’t featuring in your prayer life very often, how much can you claim to love them? How far are you really committed to them? If it seems natural to pray for your biological family, it should be equally natural to praying for your spiritual family. Praying regularly for your church is a great way to commit to the church.
Commit to giving
All churches need finances in order to exist. If you own or rent a building, it requires funds. To support a pastor or other workers, it requires money. To support those who have specific financial or certain practical needs within the congregation, money has to be available. This money obviously has to come from somewhere. One of the signs of our commitment to the local church is that we use our money to support it.
How we use our money is a good measure of what we value most. A quick glance at our bank account, particularly where our money is regularly going, will show us what we most value. If we are not giving anything to the church, or we are giving a tiny proportion of our income, it suggests that we don’t really value the church at all. Percentages and hard cash amounts really aren’t the issue; the issue is one of the heart. If we are really committed to the church, and we love it like Christ loves it, that will affect our bank accounts and we will be moved to financially support the work of ministry.
Commit to service
When we are really committed to something, we go out of our way to serve it. We happily give up our time and resources in order to do whatever we can to help it. In the same way, if we love the church and have committed ourselves to it, we should see something more than mere attendance at mainline meetings.
The opportunities to serve in the church are immense. There are various things to be done at services on a Sunday: preaching, leading, playing music, serving tea and coffee, welcoming people, setting up, chatting to visitors, etc. But even outside of Sunday meetings, there is evangelism to be done, people to be visited, jobs to be done. Commitment means being willing to serve in these things throughout the week.
What would people in your church say about you? Based on these things, are you somebody who is committed to your church? If you love the church and claim to be committed to it, are these four things seen in you?