Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why Membership Matters

Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things (Ixmarks)Different churches practice membership in different ways. But whatever form it takes, it’s essential to know who belongs and who doesn’t. Who’s accountable to whom? That might sound exclusionist, but it’s meant to be clarifying. If Christians are supposed to be different from the world, and if the church is meant to be a group of Christians committed to each other for the glory of God, it’s essential that we know who “we” are. The members of the church are supposed to care for each other and pray for each other. How can they do that if they don’t know who “each other” are? The leaders of the church are supposed to care for the church. How can they do that if they don’t know who “the church” is?
- Mike McKinley, Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things (Ixmarks) pp 57-58


mike_mn said...

Aren't all Christians the membership of a local church? The leadership of the church should be structured so that no one is lost when visiting. If unbelievers are feeling good about being anonymous attenders, then it seems to me there must be something off with the teaching or the fellowship going on in the church. If believers feel comfortable about being anonymous attenders, they should be confronted about it. There should be expectations of all attenders, not just the exclusive "members".

This gets into the sticky subject of what is the local church supposed to be and how is it supposed to be done. I often wish the Bible was more specific about it.

Chad Estes said...

I understand the quote and have said very similar things in the past. My experience has suggested to me that this may not hold paint the whole picture.

Membership, knowing who is in and who is out, is good for counting, for statistics, for measuring, for planning, and to a measure- accountability.

Yet the qualities that really enrich a body of believers are compassion, generosity, vulnerability, grace, etc. You don't really need "membership" for these qualities to occur, but when you have membership and these qualities are missing, you are simply cogs in a machine.

jamie said...

you truly feel like you have to a "member" of a local church. Like go to a new member class?! Where do we see that? What about church planting movements across the world.. do you think they have a membership class or would you do that in another country.. make them be members. I'm not saying just come in and sit. but i think that's where we have gone wrong. In our little community we can't just idol by, we have to talk, we have to pray, we have to confess because there are only 6 of us in our group. In huge local bodies sure you get lost, comfortable, and could careless bascially. check out
he has seen 1000's of church plants all over the world!

jamie said...

i'm not saying don't be a part of a local church in my comments above! :)

Bob Spencer said...

I totally agree with Chad. It seems to me that membership has its value for church leadership types, but it ultimately doesn't change human behavior. You may set goals and obligations that go with membership, but in the end there will be some who fulfill all your vaunted obligations, and others who, for whatever reason, don't. The single mom with two kids and a full-time job may not be attending a home group or participating in a church ministry, therefore not fulfilling expectations of membership, but she may be loving and ministering in her home and workplace and maybe has one solid friend she can count on in the church, and a few outside the church. She may be salt and light wherever she goes, but doesn't have time to serve in your food pantry or got to your prayer meeting. So what! Membership is over-rated, mostly by the church-engineers who need it to help them make sense of the beautiful train wreck that is the church.