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Membership

As promised here is the content to our new members class. Remember that this is the first draft of a class that will be in constant evolution. The document has been over several sets of eyes for editing but any help or suggestions you could give would be a great.

GROUPLIFE STUDENT EDITION

So this brings up another conversation… I grew up in a church that had church membership. We had about 1,000 people on the roll and about 300 there on any given Sunday. The rest were dead, in jail or home watching the game. I thought to my self, “What’s the point?”

Then I worked at a church that had no membership. They didn’t see the importance of church membership and said there was no Biblical precedent for it. The encouraged people to be involved but requested no formal commitment for anyone. They pointed to churches like my first example with disgust saying, “Why would we have church membership when it doesn’t really mean anything anyway?” I’m rather interested to know what you think about this.

Comments(6)

  1. Reply
    Becky Porter says

    After I voted I see that twice as many believe church membership is good as long as members are held to their committments. Exactly what are the committments….financial, attendance, service…??? Bro. Dannie had a membeship class here soon after he came but I don’t remember anything about being held to committments, voluntarily, but not feeling forced to hold to them. From experience here at this church it would cause a great deal of resentment if that were instituted, “you can’t be a member unless you do …….”. We should hold to our committments because we want to hold to them and know it pleases God. It is a heart issue that force cannot solve.

  2. Reply
    Kacey Toole says

    I believe that you must be very careful about making church membership contingent upon a list of committments. Otherwise, the practice of our faith becomes more of a check off list rather than a relationship with God. It is also important to keep in mind that many of us, especially in this area, attend a church while we are temporarily assigned here, but we also hold committments to other organizations, churches, and participatory programs that we “carry” with us as we move. I would not be willing to sacrifice these ministries, if asked to, for church membership.

  3. Reply
    clintclifton says

    Kacey (or Wes) & Becky,
    I was reading something the other day along those lines, Dr. Piper said (I’m paraphrasing) we should be very careful about making it harder to become a member of a local church than it is to be a member of the universal church. He went on to say that the for him, the door to church membership is wide but the door to church leadership is narrow.

    I want to be sure that we do church membership in a way that is a blessing and benefit to church as a whole and to the individual member.

    I understand what you mean when you say “we also hold commitments to other organizations, churches, and participatory programs that we “carry” with us as we move. I would not be willing to sacrifice these ministries, if asked to, for church membership.”

    But I think it is important to note that there are two ends to that spectrum…. there are those (like yourself) who show that you value congregational life by your actions. They attend consistently, they build one another up, the sharpen one another they give to support the church, etc.

    Then there are those who consistently place less important things as priorities above the Body of Christ. I believe that God would be honored for us to invite them into a deeper commitment. Hebrews 10 speaks plainly against those who are in the habit of missing the opportunity to gather.

    I don’t expect that everyone will choose to make another commitment to their already long list of commitments. But man I hope they do… I think, beside the family, the church is the most important institution in the world worthy of our wholehearted commitment.

  4. Reply
    Becky Porter says

    Our love for and obedience to Christ should cause us to fulfill our committments, not the church body. Obviously your heart isn’t where it should be if someone has to force you to keep your committments which should absolutely flow out of a heart of praise and thankfulness. And that’s what it is all about, the heart, not a performance of committments. But you certainly rejoice when you find a church with dedicated people meeting their committments, joyfully, whole heartedly, while seeking other ways to serve God and others.

  5. Reply
    Michael says

    I see nothing wrong with a new members class, or even with putting Biblical guidelines on membership. I realize the Bible never says that Paul held new members classes, but it also doesn’t make a point to say that he didn’t. Of course they didn’t call it that, but certainly there was mentorship and discipleship taking place. Ideally, if a church is doing it’s job then new members aren’t just recycled from another church down the street, but rather new converts who need to be taught some basics of the Christian life and what it means to interact with a church family. While it wouldn’t be good to put a stringent checklist out there to be followed like the JW’s do, most every church out there ignores the fact that the NT does speak of church discipline. You would not need church discipline unless someone were doing something inappropriate, so I don’t see where setting basic guidelines for the local Christian church is a bad thing.

    Beyond the whole behavior aspect and getting back to the original question of church membership, there are also certain business aspects that every church must attend to and I think everyone would agree that it’s best if members are the ones who handle those issues as opposed to some dude with an ax to grind who just started coming 2 weeks ago. Whether the entire congregation votes v/s a group of elders is up to the particular congregation, but the point remains that you want the people who are committed to that particular church and it’s mission to be the ones making those calls.

  6. Reply
    Phillip says

    In all of this I am reminded of what Paul said to the Thessalonians. In 2 Thess 3:14, Paul simply said that if any one of you do not do what you have been instructed do not associate with them! But he goes on to say that that person should not be looked at as an ememy but to be abmonished as a brother/sister! From my understanding of this passage, Paul is writing to a church. He is giving specific instructions on how one should act as a believer and a member of the local church. He is clear to point out that they are not to be considered an enemy (enemy of God, lost salvation, unsaved, etc.) but must be corrected for their misconduct in the church. Could this be applied to church membership that has certain requirements, such as serving the church, not bringing shame to the church? Just a thought

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