Myth of the Church Member Stealer
Who Stole MY Members?
I once read: A big, big church denomination was split in half and the ones that didn’t stay with the original church went to another pastor. And the pastor who owned the big, original church denomination condemned the other pastor whom he claimed “stole my members!”
I couldn’t help but LOL. Steal his members? Since when did we pastors get to own members? There’s a common notion that members get stolen by other churches, talking about it like church members were some property or commodity they bought and owned. Steal members? From whom? Is there really a church member stealer?
Who Owns Church Members?
This takes us to the question, “Who really owns church members?” Ownership involves a purchase. So, who bought these church members? No-one but Jesus. He alone paid for these sinners. He alone redeemed people by paying with his precious blood on the cross. No church denomination or leader could ever pay for people’s lives and get to own them. Therefore, there’s no such thing as a church member stealer—yet at the same time there is.
Anyone who claims ownership of his church members is the true church member stealer. Anyone who complains that someone stole his members is really a church member thief. He or she stole it from the Shepherd. In fact, I heard someone say, such person is not only a thief; he or she is also a rapist.
Friend of the Groom or Rapist?
John the baptizer said he was a mere friend of the Groom. He was glad to see the Bride wedded to the Groom, and he stood as a mere friend to witness the occasion. He categorically said he wasn’t the One to come, something like, “I’m not the owner.” He didn’t claim the bride for himself.
Today, many church leaders get angry when their members transfer membership to another church and brazenly denounce it as stealing their members. These leaders are rapists. After getting the confidence of the bride they rape her. I once heard a church leader say that evangelism should be genuine recruitment of new blood in church, not mere stealing of membership from another Christian church. And many unthinking church leaders echo his statement even today. If that were correct, then all of them are church member robbers, because they robbed most of their members from the Roman Catholic Church.
But more than this, the genuine truth is, their claim of other pastors stealing their members implicates them to big-time robbery and even rape, because they claim ownership of the flock, stealing the Bride from the Groom.
People have the right to join any church they like, or even withdraw membership and then join another. All churches have the right to invite. But no-one has the right to own people like private property. Church doors should always be open wide for people to freely come and go, without any string attached. Such was the policy of my Jesus—he didn’t care if half of his disciples abandoned him when his teaching became too radical for them. Neither did he care if all of them left him.
Jesus never knocked on doors to invite people to his church or bible studies or prayer meetings or crusades. His policy was always “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He never made people fill up forms or offer membership certificates or made them promise to be loyal to his local church and never go to another. Today, crooks misuse baptism as a means to sign up people for membership, something Scripture does not support. That’s why you find pastors too eager to baptize you.
Recently I heard someone say that what Jesus did in the Gospel ought to be adjusted to fit the new needs of the modern church. We cannot just do today what Jesus did some 2000 years ago. The world is lots different today, he reasoned. Well, to some people, Jesus was the way, truth, and life. To make him relevant, adjust him to fit our times. Then we may again say that Jesus is the way, truth, and life.
Church Member Enticer
I’m sure you’ve met the church member enticer. These are churches that show you the glories of their churches to entice you to sign up for membership. They keep their church buildings in tiptop form and updated in modern gadgetry. They have the best well thought-out programs. They have the best systematic schedules and do dozens of services per Sunday. They have everything made for you. Lots of people transfer to them because they’re so big and cozy and grand.
They are not church member stealers but they’re rat racers. They’d bring anything from the world into their churches just to make their members comfy and remain competitive. No problem with all these except that my Jesus never did any of them.
Just Be like Jesus
Contrary to what other "believers" believe--that Jesus's ways in the Gospel are no longer applicable today--we should be using his ways more and more. The more we do the more we become relevant to our times and turn this world upside down as the Acts church did. Jesus' ways are eternal because the Word is eternal, and any modern methods are really primitive compared to Jesus' ways.
Churches should be more like Jesus, concerned about seeing the LIFE in believers rather than converting them for membership.
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