What is membership? According to the dictionary it is the “state or status of being a member” A member is “one of the individuals composing a group.” You can be a member of many things; a club, church, organization, etc. I remember growing up and creating clubs that my siblings couldn’t be a part of. (Sorry guys…ok, not really) Now, I am a member of various organizations and groups. Some are for my job, some are on Facebook, and a couple are just random mailing clubs that I don’t know how to get out of. (Stupid mail offer crap….)
Out of all my memberships, one of the most important ones (at least for me) is church membership. I feel that being a member of a church is not only Biblical, but the best way to remain accountable in your walk with God. When you are a member of a church, you have an instant extended family who will be there no matter what. You have a place to go when times are hard, and people to celebrate with when God is blessing you. There are people from all walks in life to connect with and a wealth of wisdom and experience to draw upon.
So it seems like a natural step to become a member of the church we decide to attend. What is interesting to me, is that people were surprised to find out how quickly we became members. I don’t get it. We like the church, we agree with the vast majority of the doctrine being taught, and we like the pastor. What more do we need to know to become members?
Some people say that you need to know a bunch of people first, or you need to become involved in the church first, or you need to wait year(s) before “making the leap.” Why? Do any of these things change the church? Does it affect what is being taught? Does the pastor become a different person when you become a member? Now I’m not saying that the above things are wrong, just not relevent to becoming a member. You should get to know people in the church, become involved and ideally spend years in the church; just not as a prerequisite to becoming a member. I would argue that you can do a better job when you ARE a member, because you have a vested interest in the health of the church and its members.
When you become a member, you are saying that you care about the church and the direction it’s going. You are saying you have a voice to speak up and say you would like to see changes made. You are saying you can be counted on to help where needed, even if it’s just in prayer. You are saying ,”This is where I want my gifts to be used for the glory of God.” These are things that are difficult to say when you are just attending.
If you make the decision not to become a member, even though you are a “regular attender”, you are saying you don’t care enough. You are giving yourself an out if you don’t like what you see. It is far easier to just walk away if you are not a member, instead of speaking up and being a part of the solution. The longer you remain a non-member, you are telling newcomers that there is something wrong with the church. That you don’t really agree with what is being taught and that you just don’t care what the church does.
Now I want to be clear, I don’t think everyone has the ability or desire to make a decision as quickly as we did. However, if you are at a church for longer than a year, you should seriously look at yourself and the church and make a decision. If it’s not the right place for you, than move on until you find one. If it is, become a member!
A member, really?