Saturday, July 5, 2008

Church Membership?

Do we actually know why we become members of a certain church? Is it really necessary? I have never personally done it myself and believe allot of people do it just because it is the thing to do and don't think about why. I was asked once at a church I had been attending to become a member. I declined the offer and was asked why so. This church like most had a rather large statement of faith with about a dozen points if i remember right. I said that i didn't agree with all of the statements. This person told me just to forget about those points as long as I agreed with most of them. What a turn off for me.

I have had many discussions with people who made points to try to convince me that membership was good and why it had a place. One was "To get people to be more involved in the church". Tell me how participating in a weird ceremony and having your name on a register causes you to become more involved. I know many "adherents" {as we non members that attend regularly are called} that are far more into the church than most members. Another point was "so you can vote on issues and that it would keep bad people from influencing the church in a bad way". If a few people have an idea that the majority done agree with or like it won't matter because they are a majority. Also if too many are on their side they could just branch off and start another church{sarcasm in case you didn't catch it. Like we need to start more branched off churches}One more argument for membership was that " It keeps people accountable to monetary support". I don't see how this is accomplished. Has anyone been kicked out of a church because someone in power thought they were not giving enough? I have never heard of it happening.

I have often thought about other groups that require memberships. Biker Gangs, sororities and fraternities, and political parties, They all seem to have one thing in common. The members learn to be competitive, sometimes violent and negative towards other groups. There is almost always a thought that they are better than any other group. Are these qualities that God wants to see in our churches? Competition and a superior attitude is very strong in allot of churches.

I am not really a fan of denominations either. I really wish sometimes that we could all be members of "Gods church" and when someone asks what denomination we were we could just say Christian.I often wonder what the people around town that are not Christians think about our variety of denominations that can't stand each other or at least don't really get along. Not a great sales pitch for Christianity is it. This could be post topic on its own.
I wouldn't say I'm 100% against membership, but I have yet to hear a valid point that has convinced me or that the positives outweigh the negatives. I am curious what others think of this issue and am open to comments and opinions.

Well, its been interesting trying blogging out. its way more work than i imagined. I applaud Mark for being so dedicated to it. I don't think I could keep it up daily as he does.



Jay Boaz said...

I definitely agree with you about denominations. I've never done church membership either, and I don't feel like less a member of the church community as a result.


Mark said...

I'm kind of torn on this one. I think membership is a "church technology", just like Sunday School or board meetings. These technologies came about because there was a need. These needs get partially met but hey also create their own problems. Membership is good in that it provides accountability, display of commitment, and the ability to protect standards/principles/theology. Of course one asks "Is it necessary? Is it ethical?" I am not currently a member at my church and I wasn't one in Mennville - even though I was a youth minister! Did this create problems? Rarely. I know at our current church you can't teach if you are not a member. Again I am torn. This is an excellent way to protect the church from bad teaching because members are generally more accountable then adherents. Unfortunately it also cuts out some people who would be amazing. Is membership the problem? Not sure? Even churches who don't have "members" still have some sort of informal membership protocols so maybe it's a moot point. To me the question is, if we don't have membership, what do we replace it with that's better?

Scott said...

I have trouble with the accountablility part. Have you ever heard of someone that was forced to be accountable because they were a member? I guess they could resign their mebership and become adherents.I also don't think membership prevents bad teachings. Well, mabey thats not totally true, it could reduce them. Would bad teachings be delt with any differenly with a member or an adherent? One of my big issues with this topic is it seems so middle of the road and somewhat hypocritical to accept both. Does it really have a purpose if we have good experiences without it as you and Jay have both stated.Perhaps membership has its place but I think it needs a major overhaul to convince me. As for a replacement what would be wrong with just attending regularily and getting involved and letting God run the show.

Aneta said...

I'm not strongly in favour of becoming a 'member' of a certain denomination or church, either. I've gone to a variety of churches over the years and liked each one for different reasons. Never went through the membership process, though. And always was involved to some degree.

Only recently have we become members. Our reasoning was that my hubby really wanted to get more involved - even sitting on the board... and to be on the board, one must be an 'official member'. And i believe we felt it was a good thing to 'be accountable'.

I didn't agree with every point in our church's doctrinal statement, and said so. They 'accepted' me, nonetheless.

Basically, I think membership shows the pastor that you are really committed to the church. Is it really necessary? Probably not.

Maybe it's just a numbers game?