Wednesday, 12 August 2009

church membership

Are we a club for members or do we exist to build The Kingdom ? Can we do both?
This post caught my eye fom the Off the agenda website written by Eric Bryant
I believe that connecting to a local church remains an important part of the life of a follower of Jesus. According to Paul, whether we like it or not, when we choose to follow Christ we become part of the "body of Christ." I agree .. that Paul could not imagine a follower of Jesus who was not connecting with other followers of Jesus in homes or gatherings in the city in which they lived. Rather than thinking we should get rid of church membership, then, I do not believe that church membership is enough.
Too many churches have more members than attenders. In other churches, members may attend, but they are not engaged whatsoever. Unfortunately, membership in a local church sometimes feels like joining a gym. You start going for a few weeks and then stop when you get too busy.
In other cases, churches have allowed the mantra from American Express—"membership has its privileges"—to infiltrate their culture. Church members become more consumeristic or concerned with power than the apostle Paul ever intended.
Finally, the word "member" ends up emphasizing who belongs and who doesn't. As a result, too many of our churches have become a fortress from the world rather than "salt and light" in the world.
We have a different approach at
Mosaic. Anyone can be a part of our community no matter where they are in their spiritual journey. People are allowed to belong before they believe. It has been a beautiful experience to see people from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and spiritual backgrounds come together to discover that God loves us and that His name is Jesus.
While we have a wide open front door, the path to join our volunteer staff—the team that oversees the lives of others—is very narrow. The women and men serving as part of our volunteer staff have been mentored through "Life in Christ," participated in a seminar about our particular calling as a community, and commissioned to be missionaries, pastors, and mentors in our city. We anoint them with oil and commission them in the same gatherings where we commission our overseas workers.
Since our volunteer staff share our convictions and values, they are encouraged to start new efforts in reaching others and raising up leaders. They commit to live in a God-honoring way, serve faithfully, reach out to the disconnected, and give 10 percent of their income towards our efforts as a community. Not every person who follows Jesus in our community chooses to join our volunteer staff. We will love, serve, and care for anyone in our community. The only reason to join our staff is if you want to be one of those loving, serving, and caring for our community.
Allowing people to belong before they believe and mobilizing volunteers to serve with such a high level of authority and responsibility comes with great risks and great rewards. We joke that we have the same characteristics as the early church—immorality, heresy, and conflict. At the same time, we have discovered the beauty of seeing people choose to follow Jesus and come alive serving in the areas where they are gifted and passionate.


  1. I like this model - messy on the fringes, solid at the core.

    I had a discussion with a friend recently about a church which dissolves its membership each year and then asks the congregation to sign up and commit for another year of ministry. I like this approach for the following reasons.

    1) It enables leadership to set a short term vision for the year as part of a long term overview.

    2) People may find it easier to commit to a ministry for a year rather than an open ended commitment.

    3) It enables very specific responsibilities to be outlined as part of that commitment. E.g. If you want to be a member this year you will serve, give, attend, pray etc.

    I like the idea of an annual vision evening where the vision is cast for the coming year which identifies the ministries to focus on. After the vision casting there would be an opportunity to sign up for a specific role for the coming year. You might have various tables manned by the leaders of each ministry with very specific roles available. For example in a youth work context, instead of signing up to help with youth work (what am I letting myself in for!) you might have;

    Role 1: Setting up for 30mins at the start of each session
    Role 2: Running the cafe - making drinks
    Role 3: Clearing up for 30mins at the end of each session

    People may be willing to sign up knowing what their job is and how long they are going to part of that ministry.

  2. Some great suggestions I love the idea of an annual opting in ,a kind of renewal of membership perhaps at the covenant service each January
    That same Sunday could also be vision Sunday (sign up Sunday)

  3. Love the inclusivity of this I never like an 'us' and 'them' feel about membership....

    Also love Tim's idea for opting in yearly, and also for specific tasks for a short period of time.

    Great thinking! Liz

  4. Good post !agree about the inclusivity Liz That is a very important theme for the church to develop