Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Does Church Membership Get You?

I have several memberships that carry with them certain benefits. I’m a member of our beautiful YMCA here in the Elk River Area. My membership allows me to use any of their amazing facilities whenever I want to work-out, which isn’t often enough by the way! I’m also a member of Costco, the huge discount chain. Well actually, I’m an Executive Member but I don’t want to brag about it. This allows me to shop at Costco anytime I want and spend money on things I never knew I needed before walking in the door. I even get a small rebate at the end of the year!

When you and I “take out a membership” in something, we expect there to be benefits for our investment. So what does your church membership get you? This is an interesting question these days as many churches nation-wide are de-emphasizing church membership. I know of many churches where the average worship attendance on Sunday morning far exceeds the number of official members on the church rolls.

Last Saturday we held a New Member Class at Christ Church. As Pastor Tom and I met with several families, we shared our approach to church membership. We believe that church membership is not so much about what you “get” as it is about what you commit to “give.”

You see, the church is not a health club or a discount store or one of a million organizations that promise you a range of benefits in order to entice you to become a member. The church is a “fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ” who covenant together for the sake of mutual support, shared ministry and the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Check-out the commitments made by the very first believers in Acts 2:42-47.

At Christ Church, we invite any person to come and share freely in the full range of ministries and opportunities that are available… no membership required! But for those who sense God’s call to make this place their church home and fully engage in the transformation mission and vision God has given us, we say, “We invite you to express this commitment by becoming a member.” That’s why we say that church membership is not so much about what you “get” as what you commit to “give.”

We think of it as a Membership Covenant. It is a commitment made before God and others to stand in agreement with our foundational statements of faith, mission and vision. It is also a commitment to partner with others to fulfill certain responsibilities of membership. These commitments are made fully dependent on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill them. They include unity, worship, hospitality, service, witness and support.

I encourage you to check-out our Christ Church Membership Covenant, whether you are a member here or somewhere else in the world. Ask yourself, “What do I expect to get by being a member of a local church?” And, much more importantly, “What do I expect to give in order to see my local congregation become a vital center of witness, service and transformation for Jesus Christ?” I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well!

Blessings, Greg Pagh

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