Family Members or Club Members

Posted in christian thought, church reform by Nathan Creitz on July 16, 2008

Have you ever been frustrated with how the church doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to relationships? Doesn’t it seem like no one is really committed to the church or to each other sometimes? Perhaps thats because of how we view membership in the church.

Membership in the church has come to be very formal. We talk about members but it feels like membership in a club rather than being a member of a family. “Members should feel like they are at home with family when they gather for worship. Involvement with a church family shouldn’t be about filling out a card and subscribing to a minimum set of requirements. Tithing isn’t about giving only ten percent to the church, it is about discovering God’s plan for the money He has blesses us with and using it wisely. Members shouldn’t have to be asked to show up on Sunday, they should have a desire to invest in a community of believers and live life together with them. Involvement also doesn’t just mean activity with believers. Being a member of God’s family means loving and serving God and people. It is a recognition that God has put them in a particular time and place to make a difference for His kingdom.

Some members are more committed than others. Not everyone will fit neatly into the following categories, but I have identified a few levels of commitment that will help us see more fully how people get involved with their church.

The Core
People who have dedicated themselves to following Christ and Christ has led them to our church. They believe that a church is their family of faith for as long as God keeps them in a particular place. These individuals are committed to gathering at least weekly with other believers but they also sense a great responsibility to reach out to their lost friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else in their circles of influence. The Core are active givers to the church with their time, money and talents. They set an example in the church and are servant leaders. They are active disciplers and are being discipled regularly.

The Community
These are people who seek to grow in their relationship with God and with others, but need more than they can give. And that’s okay! As long as they are growing and have the goal of being able to give and not just receive. The church “community” is comprised of people who need discipleship in their life and have identified a particular church as a place where they can learn and grow. They are actively involved in the church but are maybe not ready for teaching roles or leadership roles. However, they are actively involved in giving to the church, building relationships, giving and receiving encouragement and are earnestly desiring a deeper commitment as a follower of Christ.

The Committed
There are some who identify a church as their “home church”, but most of their community is developed through groups other than the church. Mostly, the committed only come once a week and there is no real investment. Many will tithe and sometimes be involved in various activities of the church. They come for the large celebration event on Sundays, but if they are to receive or give discipleship or engage in community, it is done elsewhere.

The Crowd
Many people will “church hop” based on where their friends go to church. They might hear about what a church across town is doing and want to go their occasionally. Sometimes they will call a church their home church, but are gone more than they are there. This person usually feels they have no time for discipleship, community or investing in unbelievers. They are looking for a church to meet their needs. If they didn’t enjoy the celebration one week, they might find themselves at another church the next week. This person may even be a seeker who has not believed God yet. In that case, they are looking for answers and it is a good thing that they are giving church a try. Mostly, people in the crowd are not tithers or givers and certainly don’t invest time for any activity unless it is a fun event or it meets certain needs for them.

There are, of course, various shades to all of these categories. I only categorize them here to help get a feel for where someone might be on their spiritual journey. If someone is a part of the crowd, how can I encourage him or her to become committed? Do they have a personal relationship with Jesus? Are they living as a selfish Christian? If they are in the committed category, are they getting discipleship from a campus group? If so, is it Biblically sound? Can I trust that they are engaging in discipleship and community or do I need to encourage them to be more involved in the church community? Are they in a healthy relationship with our church when they only come on Sunday? How can I help the community grow to be servant leaders in the church? What needs do they have that I can help disciple them in? Which of our core can begin investing in them to mature their faith and develop their spiritual gifts? How can I make good use of the core? What areas of their life could use some direction and guidance? Do they feel like they are being used synergistically or are they getting bogged down in areas in which they are still weak? Are they allowed to dream and think creatively? Do they have input in the direction of the church?

One last thing, these are just categories that are inside the church so that we can see the patterns of people’s involvement. Membership is often viewed from a country club mentality where I pay my dues and attend various meetings. Instead, we should be viewing membership as family. These categories are simply for church members so please don’t think I’m ignoring those outside the church. Are we as a church finding ways to dialogue with unbelievers? Are we equipping the saints? Do we know how to share our faith? Can we use the relationships we are building to draw unbelievers into the church? Is the church meeting needs in the community? Do the people of the community think favorably about the church? There is a lot of equipping and building and investing to do and these are only some of the things a church family should be doing together to change the world.


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