Consider Church Membership
In our hyper-connected and technologically interwoven culture there are plenty of clubs to be a part of. Look at Facebook. There is a group for everyone and everything.
Are you a stay at home mom? There is a group for you. A working mother? We've got you covered. Do you enjoy traveling? There is a group for you. Are you an introvert? You're not alone!
Whether your interests are broad or narrow there are groups for you.
There are so many groups out there that I bet the vast majority of you have no clue all the groups you are actually a part of. I get added to groups on Facebook all the time and either leave them or mute them.
While the ability to socialize and interact with like-minded people is important, it has brought about the unintended consequence of devalued real-life relationships and partnerships.
All of these Facebook groups take zero risk and little to no investment. We can come and go as we please. Once we lose interest or are annoyed enough we can just leave the group and not look back. Even if we get kicked out for breaking an admin's arbitrary rules, we easily move on without such banning having a real impact on our lives.
Today, membership in real life carries little value.
Unfortunately, the devaluation of membership has crept into the church as well. People just don’t see the benefit of formal membership. This is not just a problem with people not liking the idea. Our leaders have often done a poor job teaching the value of church membership.
At Redeemer Fellowship, we take membership seriously. Members covenant to unite together as a family, with the aim of glorifying God as we seek to make disciples as disciples. As brothers and sisters we serve a common Savior and share a common mission. We love God and one another with true affection and good works. And we hold one another accountable as we seek to glorify God together.
We at Redeemer covenant in membership in four ways; to protect, to share, to serve, and to support.
When we talk about protecting, we are not referring to protecting the image of the church or trying to hide misdeeds. We seek to protect the unity of the church by acting in love towards each other. We give each other the benefit of the doubt. Chapter 27 paragraph 1 of the Second London Baptist Confession puts it like this:
All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
Unity is also maintained by refusing to gossip about each other. Our members covenant to not only refuse to listen to gossip, but to encourage the party gossiping to go and speak directly to the individual they are talking about. Gossip can burn like wildfire and damage reputations and relationships. It needs to be avoided and dealt with right away. Protecting the unity of the church also includes following the biblical leadership of the elders of the church. This cannot be done blindly or silently, but thoughtfully, humbly, and graciously. It is OK to ask the leadership for clarification of decisions that are made. It is good to offer feedback, suggestions, and even helpful critique. The line is crossed when members are being unnecessarily divisive.
As members of Redeemer Fellowship we share the responsibility of the church. It is not just the pastors who are called to share the Gospel, but all of us in the various ways God has called and equipped us. We are all called to be praying for the spiritual and numeric growth of the church: that the Holy Spirit would be working in the hearts and minds of men and women, convicting them of their sin and their need for grace. We also share this responsibility by inviting the unchurched to church. In corporate worship they will hear the word of God preached, sung, and read. If you are at church and see a visitor, be sure to welcome them warmly. All of us covenant to share in praying, inviting, and welcoming.
All members covenant to serve the ministry of the church. Members do not see the church as a distributor of religious goods or an event center to attend. Members should find areas in which they can serve joyfully and fruitfully. If they don't know what is a good fit, the leadership should help them to discover their gifts and talents. The leadership does not just throw members into positions, but trains and equips them.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace”
- 1 Peter 4:10
Supporting the local church is perhaps the most emphasized aspect of membership in many churches, especially when it comes to financial support. At Redeemer we do covenant as members to give faithfully and regularly to the church, but that is just one aspect of supporting the testimony of the church. We also agree to support the ministry of the church by attending regularly. Yes, we see corporate worship on Sunday as critical to the life of faith. Of course there are circumstances where people are providentially hindered from attending. Some members are just not able to make it due to health issues, work, travel, etc. But too many today treat the local assembly as an option easily set aside.
If you are not a member of your local church I want to encourage you to reconsider. You may be a faithful attender of a church, and yet no a member. If so, what is holding you back from committing yourself to that local body of Christ? Past hurts and misunderstandings can be worked through, and i sincerely believe the reward of membership far outweigh the risk. Talk to your pastors to begin thinking through this together.
For those in church leadership, spend more time and effort teaching on the value of membership to your people. This should not be done to increase your numbers or giving, but because you are calling people to what God calls us all to. We know that people rarely, if ever, can sustain growth in isolation. Love your people by challenging them to covenant alongside others to proclaim the Gospel, grow in grace, and glorify God.