by Andy Hammond, Pastor of Worship & Media

With a blog title like this one, I suppose it's prudent to state the underlying assumption (that really should go without saying): a church should not be like a country club.  If you aren't convinced of this, I hope you will be by the time you finish reading the following list.  In pointing out these differences, my goal is to remind us what Scripture tells us about the nature of the church and alert us to country club-like tendencies that we need to be careful to avoid.

No church is perfect (including ours at Hernando Baptist), but we should always be diligent to pursue that which God calls us to be through His Word.  This post is in no way intended to guilt or condemn people who happen to be members of a country club; I would just like to show why we cannot allow our churches to become like one!

That said, here are 7 ways a church is different than a country club:

1.) Being a member of a country club is determined by your ability to pay a fee.  Being a member of a church is determined by Christ's payment of a debt you could never pay.

"He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross." - Colossians 2:14

2.) At a country club, you give money to unlock your benefits.  As a church, we give our money sacrificially for the advancement of the greatest mission of all time.

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you." - Matthew 28:19-20

3.) A country club consists of people plus a facility.  A church consists of people.

Can you imagine a country club without a golf course, swimming pool, clubhouse, and/or tennis courts?  A church is a redeemed people under the lordship of Christ, not four walls and a steeple.

4.) At a country club, people are brought together by a common interest.  In a church, people are brought together by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When you walk into a country club, chances are you will find people just like you.  A healthy church transcends age, race, education level, socio-economics, politics, and college football allegiances because the common thread holding us together and unifying us is God's amazing, gracious work to save us.

"There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:28

5.) A country club is all about preference.  A church is all about deference.

While a country club caters to its own needs, members of a church should look for ways to serve others, including those far from God.  In this way, Christ lives through us, who "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life--a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." - Philippians 2:4

6.) At a country club, you consume the benefits to which you are entitled and leave the work to the paid staff.  In a church, pastors equip members to do the work of ministry.

"And He personally gave some to be [...] pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ." - Philippians 4:11-1

7.) A country club may not last this year.  The Church of God will endure forever.

"... on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it." - Matthew 16:18
"... and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." - Revelation 7:9

Every church struggles with drifting to a "country club" mentality.  How can you personally help pray and encourage your church?