The story is told of a man who hopped from church to church, never remaining long in any one place as a member. One day he asked his current pastor, “What would you think if I joined another church?” The pastor answered, “I think it would be all right in your case. It doesn’t do any harm to change the label on an empty bottle.”
Have you ever met a professing Christian who couldn’t settle down in any one church? I have. Have you ever met one whose church letter never seemed to translate into much holy living? I have. Have you ever met one who seemed to think that church membership was some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card in regards to sin? I have.
I’m not trying to devalue having your name on a church roll, but I would like to point out that it’s not exactly the end-all-be-all of living the Christian life. I forget who it was but some famous preacher once said, “The Lord has some the church doesn’t have, and the church has some the Lord doesn’t have.” That sums up the situation pretty well, doesn’t it? As another preacher once said concerning the “dead wood” on our church rolls, “We’ve got some members even the C.I.A. couldn’t find.”
Unfortunately, the church growth movement that swept this county some years ago has wired us to equate spirituality and God’s blessing with the number of names on a membership roll. Again, I’m not railing against church membership, but I do want to remind us that the great commission calls for the making of disciples, not just church members (Matthew 28:18-20). Give me a choice between a disciple and an “empty bottle” church member, and I’ll take the disciple every time.