Note From Pastor:

Pastor John Piper-Author, conference speaker, theologian. Shares on the importance of Church Membership.

Hopefully the articles above, along with a video from Pastor John Piper will help you answer some of your questions regarding membership here at Schoharie Valley Gospel Church. My wife and I have been pastoring for many years and when it comes to membership it raises so many questions and concerns. There  are a variety of different takes on the subject of membership. We all know that when we are Born-again (Giving our lives and heart to Jesus) that we are spiritually born into the family of God. We become part of the household of faith. Our citizenship is now in heaven. What a glorious thing. We become part of the universal Church of all Born-Again believers.

 

We see throughout the New Testament that people met together in synagogues, we would say today, believers we would meet in Church buildings, they would also meet in homes, and there were pastors, elders and deacons who helped in equipping and serving God's people. They had fellowship, prayer, communion, teaching and opportunities to share their faith with unbelievers. Each believer was part of a company of other believers that met in different locations. Today we see Mega churches of thousands, churches in the suburbs, country and rural areas, Churches of all sizes.

We have seen Churches who are very strict about membership, even so much that you can't be involved in anything unless you are a member, other than attend services. Then there are those with no formal membership requirements at all. You can do anything you want. I think there needs to be a balance.

 

We live in a world of non-committers, independent attitudes, and a consumer mentality that say's,"What can the Church do for me?" "It should be what can I do for Christ and His people." When we talk about membership we are talking about commitment to a body of believers and to Christ. We call it our home Church. Its our extended family for spiritual support. Membership is not about control or manipulation but accountability. It's about saying,"I'm here with this family to grow in Christ, to help, to support, to encourage and spread the Gospel of Grace to the lost." It's about depending on Christ and one another. It's saying we are stronger together than separate. It's saying I'm open to the Lord and other believers for input in to my life even when it might hurt a little. Hey who said constructive criticism is a bad thing if it done in love with genuine concern for our welfare.

 

Why all the hoops and requirement to be a member. What's the big deal?

 

Like anything else in society, we fill out applications for a job, we take a test and fill out paper work for a drivers license, paper work for a marriage license, applications for a mortgage, etc and a host of other things. Yes, pastor that's right but shouldn't it be different regarding Church? Yes and no. Let me explain; again membership is about commitment, it's about being accountable. Really membership is a heart thing regardless if you fill out a piece of paper or attend a membership class. Yet those things can strengthen and help that commitment and motivate us to be accountable. It helps us to stay in the game when things get tough. It's saying I'm with you no matter what comes. We weather the storms of life together. We laugh and cry together.

 

Look at membership like a wedding ring that symbolizes a  covenant agreement between marriage partners. They say," As a token of my love and commitment to be with you I give you this ring." Accountability is a good thing. I don't think we can be a healthy Christians if we are not accountable to God, to His word and to each other.

Membership shouldn't be seen as some governmental "red tape" to separate the committed from the non committed. It's saying as long as God calls me to this place of believers I'm here to do my part and I can be depended on to fulfill my God given purpose. I'll show you my level of commitment by becoming a member as long as the Lord has me there.

So what do we require as a Church for membership? Good question.

  • You should be a Christian-Born-Again. (John 3:1-8, 16-18)

  • A membership class is a cool thing. Because you learn about the Church, its vision, and how you can grow and serve the Lord with other believers.

  • Filling out an application is helpful to the Pastor to get to know you and your family. Sometime he can forget important information that He needs to remember later on.

  • And we would like to introduce you to the rest of the Church family.

Final thoughts:

  • Its nice to know who you can depend on and being a member really helps.

  • Again membership is a heart attitude. A willingness to be  a part of something bigger than yourself.

  • People struggle with membership sometimes but we need to see it as part of our discipleship experience in our Christian walk.

  • I've seen people become members for a few months or a year and then you don't see them anymore. They leave with no explanation of why they left (ouch). Its rough on the pastor and the other members when this happens.

  • Then there are those who have faithfully attended over many years and they are involved on some level yet never became a member. 

  • This is where I scratch my head and say, "I don't have it all figured out?"

  • God can move people along in different directions and membership is not meant to be a shackle.

  • People belong to the Lord. They are His sheep. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.

  • People may leave Churches for many reasons. They become offended, they don't like the music, or the church is lacking in programs. These really aren't good reasons to leave a church.

  • There may be good reasons for leaving a church such as doctrinal error, abusive leadership, immorality and a lack of godly vision. The Church has become self centered, focusing on themselves only.

  • For others God is moving them in a different direction and their future church family is more in line with their heart and vision in what God has called them to do.

  • We need to remember as Christians we are the body of Christ and we need each other. Isolation is not the answer. God's people need to be together. (Heb 10:24-25 )

  • When someone leaves a Church family for whatever reason there should be an opportunity to pray with them before they exit. Hopefully resolve any issues, even if it's to agree to disagree. Love should be our motivation and we want to support God's people.

  • Let's look at membership with God's grace as something beneficial rather than something negative.

  • Membership or not membership-"to be or not to be" should never cause division or a fuss. Lets talk about it, let's pray together, lets seek the Lord together. What is the Holy Spirit saying in your situation.

  • What's the real reason that you don't want to be a member? Have you been hurt in past Church relationships, was there issues of abuse regarding authority, was there offenses taken?

  • Whatever might have happened there is forgiveness, grace, healing and restoration. 

  • I hope this helps. I'm learning and growing as well.

  • If you have any question about membership or need more information about this Church family, please email or give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.