The book I Am a Church Member by Thom S Ranier was disappointing to read, and seems to be more of a sermon than a book. I knew I was in trouble when chapter one started at 30% of the book content on my Kindle! While I found some of the content useful, such as the theory of “church membership vs country club membership,” I found most of the content very one-sided. The blame was placed on the church member throughout the book, each chapter asking the attendee to commit to change. Ranier writes “nine out of ten churches in America are declining or growing at a pace that is slower than that of their communities.” Later he writes “many of us church members have lost the biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.”
In this short book, Ranier details how church members can change their attitude and expectations. The topic is one sided and does not address the lack of leadership in churches today or the disconnect from pastors who run video sermons and don’t attend Sunday service. Using the membership model, is it considered entitlement to expect a live pastor on Sunday rather than a video? Is it entitlement to expect a compassionate call from the pastor when a family member dies? Is it entitlement to wonder who will lead your own Celebration of Life, when the pastor is so disconnected from his flock and only attends church once a month? In this book, the burden seems to be placed on the church member without any attention to the heart of the pastor. I would have preferred more balance, with examples of what works and does not work from both sides of the pew.
After reading I Am A Church Member by Thom S Ranier and also Answers to Pastor’s FAQ’s by Warren Wiserbe and Howard Sugden, I’m convinced that when the pastor has a servant heart, it will pass on throughout the church body from head to toe. I found the Wiserbe book to be much better than this one.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28 NIV
Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. 1 Cor 14:12 NIV