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20 characteristics of a good church member: ‘Is saved and sure of one’s salvation’ top choice in surveycomment (0)

February 13, 2014

By Julie Payne

"Spends time in prayer.” “Tithes.” “Attends worship regularly.” “Works for unity in the church.”

So what exactly do people consider to be top characteristics of a good church member?

It’s a question The Alabama Baptist posed to pastors, directors of missions and other church leaders at the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting in November. 

A brief survey, which included a list of 20 characteristics of a good church member (see characteristics, this page), was handed out to willing participants visiting The Alabama Baptist booth at the convention. Participants were asked to rank their top five choices on the survey, with “1” being the most important characteristic of a good church member. 

While there were some variations in the rankings, one characteristic stood out as No. 1 among the others — “Is saved and sure of one’s salvation.” 

Thirty-one of the survey’s 52 participants chose it as the most important characteristic from the list. 

“Seeks and follows the Holy Spirit,” “Spends time in prayer,” “Lives a godly life” and “Is growing spiritually” rounded out the top five characteristics most picked by survey participants.

Phil Boyles, pastor of Sage Avenue Baptist Church, Mobile, participated in the survey and ranked “Is saved and sure of one’s salvation” as No. 1. He said he considers this the top characteristic because “understanding the new life that we have been given through Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation is crucial to obediently following His commands. Until we are obedient to the call of Christ to make Him Lord and Savior, we can never become a part of the ‘body’ of Christ.”

David Bankson, pastor of Slackland Baptist Church, Leesburg, in Cherokee Baptist Association also chose “Is saved and sure of one’s salvation” as the No. 1 characteristic of a good church member. 

“I chose that statement as No. 1 because it is the foundation of Christianity and what establishes a true church member,” Bankson said. When evaluating all other characteristics listed on the survey, Bankson noted he felt this characteristic was most important because coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus establishes a personal relationship with Him. “Without that personal relationship the other 19 characteristics are invalid,” he said.

Choosing “Seeks and follows the Holy Spirit” as No. 2, Boyles explained he picked this characteristic because the “Holy Spirit’s presence in our life is the seal of our salvation. When we are truly committed to Christ and His Church, we enthusiastically seek the leadership of the Spirit to truly ‘be’ the Church. The Spirit binds us together.”

Bankson chose the characteristic “Spends time in prayer” as No. 2. “Prayer is our means of communication with our heavenly Father. In the Gospels, we read about Jesus praying often and He taught us the model prayer in Matthew 6:9–13,” he said, adding prayer is powerful because it brings comfort, peace and healing. 

In any relationship, communication is the key to success, Bankson added. “Therefore, communication with God through prayer is vital to our spiritual health and to the success of the church,” he said. 

Rounding out Boyles’ top three characteristics was “Acts in love toward other church members.” 

“Through Christ we have been brought together as brothers and sisters and are told to love one another just as Christ first loved us,” Boyles noted. “That ‘agape’ love is one of the greatest testimonies to the world around us.”

Bankson’s additional choices on the survey included “Is growing spiritually,” “Studies the Bible with others” and “Lives a godly life.” 

“I ranked ‘Studies the Bible with others’ as No. 4, but I would include personal Bible study in No. 2 with prayer,” he noted. “A praying, Bible studying believer is a growing Christian who will become a good church member (John 15:1–7; 2 Tim. 3:16–17).”

Both Bankson and Boyles noted that while taking The Alabama Baptist’s survey, their choices of what characterize a good church member came to them fairly quickly. “The first three came pretty quickly,” Boyles said. “After that it was just prioritizing what I have found to be important in my life and ministry.”

And while it wasn’t the first time Boyles had ever been asked to think about what he considers to be top characteristics of a good church member, it was the first time he had been asked to rank the characteristics in a list. 

As a pastor, both Bankson and Boyles have particular ways they encourage their churches in the characteristics they chose.

“While preaching, I make clear what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ,” Bankson said. “Often I explain that prayer is communication much like a normal conversation, and God wants us to talk to Him. As we study God’s Word with open hearts and minds, He will speak to us through His Word and spiritual growth will follow.” 

Bankson added when the five characteristics he chose from the survey are practiced, he believes the other 15 characteristics “will fall into place.”

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