019: The Second Most Important Book
Garrett Kell writes, “Your church membership directory… I believe it is the second most important book you own because it keeps before your eyes the brothers and sisters you are responsible to help to heaven.”
The membership directory contains the particular brothers and sisters which you are to help fight against sin, stir up to love and good works, and to encourage daily until it is no longer called today.
Some reasons, according to Kell, why a membership directory is so needed are that: a) It gives every member a practical tool to aid in prayer and encouragement; b) It helps pastors better shepherd the flock Jesus entrusts to them; c) It keeps housebound members on your mind, though they may be out of sight; d) It helps homebound members continue to invest in the spiritual health of the church; and e) It helps alert church members to people who may be in spiritual danger.
Whilst the church membership directory is an important book for every member, it is an essential one for pastors.
What are some of the ways they can effectively use it?
He suggests six ways:
- Use it in your daily devotions – “pray through a page of the directory each day.”
- Use it in your family devotions – “teach your family the importance of loving and praying for the local church where you are members.”
- Use it as an opportunity to encourage someone – “if you pray for another member, consider taking a moment to text, email, or call them and let them know.”
- Use it as a tool for hospitality – “look through the directory and see if any other members live near by… extend an invitation to have them over for a meal.”
- Use it in the elders’ meeting – “talk about and pray for members at the beginning of every elder meeting… to make this more fruitful, email or call those [you’ll] be praying for beforehand to see how they are doing spiritually.”
- Use it as part of your sermon preparation – “think… about how the promises and commands in my sermon best apply to different types of people who will be hearing it.”
When it comes to praying for the members, Mark Dever has some helpful pointers. He says, “Your prayers for people don’t have to be long – just biblical. Perhaps choose one or two phrases from Scripture to pray for them, and then pray a meaningful sentence or two from what you know is going on in their lives at present. Get to know the sheep in your flock so well that you can pray for them more particularly. And for those you don’t yet know well, simply pray for them what you see in your daily Bible reading.”
I also think this suggestion I saw from Practical Shepherding Women is a great practical way of getting your family involved too. “Every night at dinner, we pray for one of our church members (and family, if applicable). A few years ago, we went through the church membership roll and wrote down each name/family on a [lollipop] stick… placed them in a mug that we keep in our dining room, and every night we let one of our kids choose a stick. We pray three things (in addition to specific requests we know they might have): that they would treasure Jesus the most, follow Him faithfully, and know that God loves them… [then] snap a pic of the lollipop stick and text it to the person we’re pray for.”
(Photo: Julia Joppien)