Ten Signs That Your Church Members Think the Church Is a Country Club

When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is dying.

Paul describes biblical church membership well in 1 Corinthians 12. When you are a biblical church member, you are a functioning church member. You serve others. You encourage others. You put the needs of others before your own needs. The members are not focused on their preferences. They are focused on others. Country club church members are focused on self.

Is it possible, then, to see some warnings before the church becomes a de facto country club? Yes, it is. When you start to see one or more members begin a pattern of making any of the following ten statements, you should hear those statements as warning signs.

1. “I am not getting fed.” While it is certainly possible that the pastor is not providing biblical preaching, most of the time this statement is an excuse to leave the church, to stop contributing to the church financially, or to stop doing ministry.

2. “I am not getting my needs met.” This statement is broad and sweeping. Ironically, we church members get our true needs met when we don’t seek to get our needs met. Serving others sacrificially is the true need of believers in Christ.

3. “I pay the bills of the church.” If you ever hear members talk about the importance of their financial gifts, you know you have a country club membership problem. The members see their gifts as country club dues that entitle them to get their own way. About 2,000 years ago, these people were called “Pharisees.”

4. “I don’t like the way our church budget is spent.” Most of the time, the meaning behind this sentence is, “I did not get my way with the church budget.”

5. “I don’t like the music style.” This statement is a classic preference-driven statement of a country club church member. Since they are paying their “dues,” they believe they have a right to have the type of music that is their personal preference.

6. “I don’t like the order of worship.” Similar to the previous item, this statement reflects an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.

7. “I am leaving the church because I want a better youth/children’s program for my children.” I am grateful for missionaries and their children around the world that are ready to serve in churches outside their cultures. They don’t expect the church to have a menu of fun activities for their children. They want their children to learn to serve in the context where God has placed them. Maybe we should have that attitude in our own churches.

8. “I am mad because I didn’t get to vote on it.” This statement is more likely to be made in churches with a congregational government. Some of the members expect to vote on every decision and every expenditure. Such attitudes bring the ministry of the church to a grinding halt. There has to be a vote for even the small decisions.

9. “I think the pastor makes too much.” In a country club church, the members have the attitude that keeping the pastor poor will keep him humble. Not surprisingly, these country club church members do not want to practice that same humility.

10. “I don’t like the changes these new members are bringing.” That is another classic country club church membership statement. It reflects a concern that the new growth will dilute their power. And if that happens, the longer-term members might not get their way as they have for years.

When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is dying.

Country club church members are focused on their preferences. What would you add to this list? Let me hear from you.

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