Members Only

As churches continue to digress from a “club” mentality, the concept of church membership still stirs various emotions among church leaders and their congregants.

The questions are: “What is the purpose or benefits of being a church member?” “Does it really do anything for anyone, or even mean anything to anyone?”

A newer approach at some churches is what they call a “partnership” in which the process is less formal and simply means you are desiring to be a part of the church community…in particular, with a discipleship or growth group.  (If the DNA of the community is promising, that entails scripture, accountability, relational connection, prayer, and service.)

Another approach would be the churches that have reflected the words of Erwin McManus from his book, An Unstoppable Force (2001). Regarding membership he states:

Becoming a member of Mosaic is a declaration that you are moving from being a consumer to being an investor; that you are joining not simply the community of Christ, but the cause of Christ. The motivation behind becoming a member is not what can be received but what can be given. And yet on a deeper level, membership is an invitation to genuine intimacy. When people become members, they are saying that they submit their lives to the spiritual authority of this community and welcome genuine accountability in their spiritual journeys. What once was our standard for leadership is now our standard for simple membership.

McManus goes on to explain that to be a member one must commit to four things: 1) Living a holy life (with the realization you’re imperfect, but open to restoration through fellowship), 2) Actively participate in ministry, 3) Regular tithing (10% and beyond), 4) Living evangelistically.

So…what do you think? Is church membership even necessary? If so, which approach would you take? What does your church community do, and what is their rationale/theology behind it?


~ by Dave Smith on August 28, 2008.

One Response to “Members Only”

  1. Great thoughts, as we have also chosen to use the word “partners” instead of “members.” When I think of membership, I think of a country club, and that’s bad imagery for the church.

    We ask our partners to commit to praying for the church, giving to the church, serving in the church, and investing in the lives of those not yet following God. Those are “four signs of health” that are necessary to partner with the church.

    I LOVE that quote from McManus. Thank you! I will use it in the very near future!

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