Thabiti starts the book with this encounter he had. He says in his introduction,
Jenny surprised me when she started crying during our membership interview. The first twenty minutes of the interview were fairly routine. She recounted her childhood growing up in a Christian home, her high school years filled with fear, and a period of living as a prodigal during college. Then she recalled with some joy her conversion experience in a home town local church.So I did not expect her to sob at the question, "How was that church for you spiritually? Did you grow there?" After pausing for a moment, she explained, "I expected that after my conversion someone would have helped me to grow as a Christian." She continued with a distinct trace of confusion and anger: "But it was as if people put me in the corner somewhere, as if they expected me to figure things out on my own. It was a terrible and lonely time."
How many Jenny's have you met in your lifetime? Perhaps you are a Jenny. Perhaps you have spent considerable time in a local church, or several churches. And perhaps your Christian life is not too dissimilar from Jenny's. You came to the faith bright eyed and bushy tailed, bouncing with energy and zeal to do great things for the Lord. But soon you found yourself wondering, "What exactly am I supposed to be doing a member of this local church?" If so, this book is written for you. And if not, this book is written for you, too.
Thabiti then recounts a story where a woman in his church came up to him after a service one Sunday and started to,
"...complain of her dissatisfaction."
..of things that were that were changing in the church. So, Thabiti said this in his introduction,
When she paused in her litany, my first thought was to ask her, "So what exactly would you have me to do about these things?" But in a rare moment of insight I thought better of asking that question. Instead I asked her, "So what are you going to do about the state of the church? How will you become a better member and contribute to the health of God's family in this place?"
In chapter one he talks about a healthy church member as an ex-positional listener. Which he describes as: listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our person and corporate lives and Christians. (Wow, what a mouth full!) And what the benefits of being that listener are. And thirdly 'How can church members cultivate the habit of ex-positional listening? He lists these examples:
1) Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time.
Thabiti says this, "Several days before the sermon is preached, ask the pastor what passage of scripture he plans to preach the following Sunday. Encourage him by letting him know that you'll be praying for his preparation and preparing to listen to the sermon. Outline the text in your own daily devotions and use it to inform your prayer life. Learning to outline Scripture is a wonderful way of digging out and exposing the meaning of a passage. You can then use your outline as a listening aid; compare it to the preacher's outline for new insights you missed in your own study.
2) Invest in a good set of commentaries.
3) Talk and Pray with friends about the sermon after church.
-I think this would be really great to do these Saturdays. I know we do it sometimes but it should be regular.
Thabiti gives this example: "Instead of rushing off after the service is over, or talking about the latest news, develop the habit of talking about the sermon with people after church.
4) Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week.
5) Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself.
"Jonathon Edwards resolved that he would never let a day end before he had answered any questions that troubled him or sprang to mind while he was studying the Scripture. How healthy would our churches be if member dedicated themselves to studying the Scripture with that kind of intentional effort and resolve? One way to begin is to follow up with your pastor, elders, or teachers in the church about the questions triggered by the text."
6) Cultivate Humility
He gave examples and helpful advice on all of these, but for the sake of time and plagiarizing I will stick with this for now.
What a God we serve? Isn't he good? He has provided us with all we need, and his blessings are unending!