Get the SUCK out of your Membership Model!

There are far too many churches who have hundreds of "members" but less than one hundred attending the weekend gathering. I believe the church has sent the wrong message when it comes to membership; and perhaps the wrong message is a symptom of a wrong motive, which is numbers. Membership should be about gospel impact, not an attendance report. 

Traditional Membership: In most churches becoming a member means going through some sort of class that shares the vision, doctrine, and mission of the church. Church membership is often presented the same way you join the country club or some other social gathering. The protocol isn't that different.  When you join a secular club, you are given the beliefs, expectations, and benefits. When people join most churches, they share the church's beliefs about Jesus; detail what good church members should do (give their time, talent, and treasure) and talk about the benefits of being a church member. Unfortunately, most people are only interested in the benefit of being able to vote. This kind of membership model may put a lot of names on the books, but it produces few bodies serving or giving to the church.  

Biblical Membership: We take the term "member" from the apostle Paul's letter to Corinth. He writes, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12). Paul uses the term member, not as an affiliate of some social organization; rather as a functioning, natural component of a living organism. Paul teaches us that church "members" should be defined as those who are attached to the body, functioning and serving with the body in unison. In other words, a church member is identified by how he serves and functions with the body; he is not identified by a membership course completion. 

Here's What we Do: In our church, we don't even use the term membership simply because it has been misconstrued so terribly in the church culture and associated with "voting rights." We call members, "Cavelanders" because they are a functioning part of Caveland Church. We do not have a membership class; instead we have a partnership luncheon. If someone wants to be a "member" we tell them to do the following: test drive one of our ministries for several weekends and participate in one semester of life groups. This is about a six week commitment. If they do these things, then we invite them to a partnership luncheon, where we cast vision and talk about what it means to be a Cavelander. The cool thing is, those who are invited are already "functioning" with the body, or as Paul would put it, they are a natural component of a living organism. This will not fill your membership role with names; but it will cause more of the names to be functioning bodies in the church. 

Last Thought: Your membership process should be nothing more than a gospel-centered assimilation process that makes disciples. Anything other than that, just isn't biblical. 



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